A Phoenix Burning

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Who Am I?

So, WordPress is putting on a “Zero to Hero” Challenge to help new bloggers get started, and to bring those of us slacker bloggers back into the regular posting world.  I thought, “Why not?”  I could use some motivation as I attempt to infuse some life into this gasping blog.

The first task is:  INTRODUCE YOURSELF: Write a “Who am I and why am I here” Post.

“Well, that should be easy enough,” I thought.

Sadly, I couldn’t get this song out of my head to think clearly.  I assure you I am none of those things.  🙂

So then I started The List.

I’m Mom.

I’m Wife.

I’m Daughter.

I’m Sister.

I’m Aunt.

I’m Cousin.

I’m Teacher.

I’m Board Member.

I’m Student.

But then, the list began to evolve into who I really am….

I’m impatient.

I’m intense.

I’m empathetic.

I’m loving.

I’m generous.

I’m creative.

I’m intelligent.

I’m anxious.

I’m dramatic.

I’m emotional.

I’m faithful.

I’m loyal.

I’m happy.

I am easily frustrated.

I don’t like to be interrupted.

I am a worrier.

I am a fighter.

I am learning to trust God.

I am fiercely determined to raise decent, kind, loving people.

I cannot imagine a life without my husband.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude at unexpected moments.

I am gifted and blessed with my extended family.

I value my friendships.

I find beauty in the simplest things, in the smallest gestures.

I like coffee.

I like chocolate.

I’m a lover of fantasy and historical fiction.

I love color.

I adore old architecture.

Disney World is my “happy place.”

I hate being cold.

I hate liver.

I despise dishonesty, disrespect, selfishness, and inconsideration.

Conniving people enrage me.

Drama Queens irritate me.

Loving people inspire me.

I am a Work in Progress.

As to the question, “Why am I here?”

On WordPress???  Or on the Planet???

I cannot answer either of these, but maybe as time goes on, I will find out.

“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” -Joseph Campbell

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Here’s To New Beginnings!

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2013

The theme of last year was “TRANSITIONS.”

The kids are growing so fast…The Boy is a first grader now, loving Legos, video games, baseball, and books. “Little” Girl is a seventh grader, a talented musician and a budding Thespian, a texting fiend and learning how to apply makeup.  (Yikes!) “Big” Girl has transitioned into a Young Lady.  She is learning to drive, exploring her independence, and testing her wings to prepare for the flight from the nest.  My kids are healthy and strong, funny and kind, smart and thoughtful, and exasperating at times! But what a wonderful year for them, and for us. 🙂

My husband has seen his job wind down to a close in 2013.  He worked as Director of IT, and celebrated his 17th Anniversary with the company on December 23rd, knowing that December 31st would be his last day.  The company will be closing in 2014.  He is unemployed at the moment, but will be doing consulting work for the time being.  We are blessed to have a severance package to lean on temporarily, so we are not panicking yet and he is looking forward to starting fresh with new opportunities…transitions galore!

In 2013, things took a drastic turn for me when I was elected to my district’s Board of Education.  It woke the teacher in me from it’s six year sleep, and I decided to go back to school to work on my Certificate of Advanced Study in Administration.  I stepped foot into a college classroom as a student for the first time in 16 years and loved it! Three credits down, 27 to go for my Building Leadership Degree, 8 additional if I want to pursue my District Leadership Degree. Time will tell.  The family has adjusted very well to having Mommy out of the house a bit more often in the evenings to attend various meetings and functions, and Mommy has adjusted very well to being out of the house a bit more!

Highlights of the year included a trip to Disney World in April.  We spent our vacation on property for the first time in a decade, and enjoyed every single minute of it!  I would say it was my favorite Disney trip in our family’s history.  We also took a trip to Plymouth, Massachusetts for a few days to see friends who own a beach cottage in Duxbury.  Such fun!!  And we took a local camping trip with three other families in August and had a blast!  We hated for it to end and can’t wait to do it again this August.  And I can’t fail to mention Zan’s purchase of a beautiful clearwater blue ’67 Mustang in pristine condition. 🙂

We had some family losses last year with the death of my Memiere and my Uncle, whose losses were felt sorely over the holidays.  However, softening those losses, was the sweet face of my new niece who was born on October 9th!  Our family is so blessed!

And finally, I have this saying written on a mirror in my bathroom, and it’s daily reminder has been an inspiration to me and has caused an internal transition to my Soul:

“Let your Faith be bigger than your Fear.”

May 2014 bless you all with goodness and light.

Vomitous

You know, I’ve been thinking long and hard about this issue.  I really believe that if we want kids to be college and career ready when they leave high school, then we really need to have children be academic and school ready when they leave babyhood.  How do we do that?  Why, we raise standards and begin giving babies annual standardized assessments of course!  And in order to be sure that parents buy into these standards and assessments, we need to begin rating parents based on those assessments, combined with triannual home visits.  If the baby’s parent fails those performance reviews one year, we will devise an improvement plan for them.  If they fail two years in a row, they will lose custody of their child.  Sounds fair, doesn’t it?

Now, for just a small sampling of the new Standards I am proposing:

Babies will be able to smile in response to human interaction by the age of 4 weeks.  Spontaneous smiling due to gas or other bodily functions will not count.

Babies will be able to use basic signs and utterances to get adult attention by the age of three months.  Crying is not allowed as it is a crutch form of communication that must be discouraged.

Babies will be able to sit unsupported for 30 minutes by the age of four months.  They must not use hands to prop themselves because that would be cheating.

Babies must be able to stand independently, without interference from any well-meaning adult by the age of nine months.

Babies must be able to verbally produce three word sentences by the age of ten months.  Goo-goo-gaa-gaa does not count as a word.  Only those found in Webster’s Dictionary will be deemed acceptable.

Babies must be able to walk unassisted, without wobble, by the age of 10 1/2 months.

There will be no allowances given for children born with disabilities or medical frailties.  They must be held to the same high standards if we are to succeed in the global economy.

The assessment given annually will be in written form and will consist of ten multiple choice questions.

Sample Question taken from my proposed NYS Assessment for Baby School and Academic Readiness:

1)  Can you walk?

a. Sometimes

b. Not always

c.  Often

d.  Kind of

These Standards and Assessments will ensure that children will be prepared to enter pre-school by the age of three, ready to be successful.  We are losing precious time allowing babies to develop at their own rates.  That is an idea of the past which must give way for the future.  With all the technological advances available to us today, our babies should be developing at a much faster rate than our global competitors’ babies.  We must offer families support in helping their children reach these more rigorous standards, such as specially designed lesson plans and videos that will teach all the necessary skills.  Specialists could even be brought into the home if the local municipalities can figure out a way to fund them within their already overstretched budgets.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and if we work together, our babies can be the global leaders of the future, one developmentally inappropriate step at a time!

*This message is a personal spewing of frustration and shall not reflect upon those with whom I serve. If you cannot understand that this entire post is dripping with sarcasm, then there is no help for you.

To Everything There is a Season…

My Memiere is transitioning from this life to the next.

It is a long, slow, painful process, not just for her, but for all of us who love her.

She has not been well for months, years really.  We have expected this before, but each time she has been on the brink of crossing over, she has clawed her way back to the land of the living.  This time is different.  Her body simply cannot go on.  She is in Stage “6” Renal failure….which isn’t even a stage.  Stage 5 is the last stage according to the books, yet somehow she has defied the definitions.  But now, she is transitioning.  She has one foot here and one foot there…the “space in between.”  Not quite here anymore, but not quite there, in and out of lucidity, unable to communicate effectively.  She is aware, and yet not.  It is difficult to explain.  At times she looks at you, at times she looks through you and I wish I could see what she see when she does.  It is as though she is looking beyond the “here” into the “there.”  It’s as though if I reached out to where she is looking, I might be able to touch my Pepiere, the one I hope she’s seeing.

I will miss her excruciatingly when she goes, and yet I hope her passing comes sooner than later.  Watching her suffer is much worse than watching her fly free of this body that has turned traitor.

I unexpectedly came across this today.  I shared it long ago, and somehow I think it was “placed” in front of me just when I needed to see it.

Ben Franklin Quote from Book

Happy Hydrangeas

After spending last year sprucing up the inside of the house, it was time to concentrate some attention on the exterior of the house.  I do not possess the greenest of thumbs, and definitely wanted plantings that would take care of themselves for the most part.  An old photo of our house showed a hedge of white hydrangeas that (sadly) no longer exists in the side yard.  So after some research and an assurance that hydrangeas generally take care of themselves, we decided to plant a hedge of sorts around the front of the wrap around porch in keeping with the original plantings that surrounded the house.  We mixed White Annabelles with Purple hydrangeas, and crossed our fingers that they would survive their first season.  Not only are they surviving, but they are thriving!  The purple plants are absolutely gorgeous, and the whites are slowly coming to bud and growing stronger.  I love the variation in color as the flowers age…just beautiful!

 

 

A Subtle Shift

Hello?

Hello?

Is anybody still out there???

I know I left you.

I’m sorry.

But I’m not.

I have been shifting, rolling with the tides, coping with changes, enjoying life in the quiet moments, going where time is directing me to go, starting down paths unknown and scary and exciting.

Suspended, waiting for the inevitable change coming to my husband’s job at the end of 2013…preparing financially for the possibility of unemployment, but even more for the life that is coming for us so quickly, whether we will it or not.  A sixteen year old Junior does that to you.  You see her driving, having relationships, morphing into an adult before your very eyes, and you realize that child number two and child number three’s “little person time” will end as quickly as the sixteen year old Junior’s did, and suddenly you are hit with the unmistakable fact that they won’t need you forever.  That your time will once again be your own…maybe not yet, maybe not soon, but it will feel “soon” nonetheless.  And you begin to develop new dreams.

The dreams you dreamed in high school, in college, as a newly married couple have all been realized if you are as blessed and fortunate as we have been.  Time for some new dreams.  Imagining the second half of my life is somehow so much more foggy than the imaginings for the first half of my life.

I was going to be a teacher. Check.

I was going to teach in my home school. Check.

I was going to get married and raise a family. Check.

I was going to buy a two story old house with character and charm and make it our home. Check.

Now what?

I am going to own a lake house. Ummmm….is that REALLY what I want?  Another house to take care of…another huge expense when I could save that money for travel…

I am going to travel all over the world.  Ummm….not yet, but if we play it smart, we should be able to later.  But what if we have no later?  What if…maybe now is the time to do it, with the kids…

I am going to go back to teaching.  Ummmm….maybe not.  Is that where I am being “called?” If I listen carefully, I think, perhaps not.

So I’ve been shifting.  Some of my dreams are no longer my dreams…and that’s okay.

I’ve spent six years home in Mommy mode…cleaning, cooking, tending.  Lost myself somewhere along the way and my body got pretty ticked off about it.  The journey of regaining my health has been a long and arduous process, but one I am proud of.  Shifting.

I enjoyed photography along the way, and I still do, but needed a break.  It became more from the head and less from the heart, and that isn’t what art is.  When my heart is ready to pick up the camera again, it will.  Shifting.

Writing also became more from the head…not what I want it to be.  A task, a chore, rather than a release.  Trimmed back, cut it out.  Dabbling a bit again…writing from the heart.

This spring I was elected to our local Board of Education.  It reignited a spark in me that has been squelched for six years…education is my love, my passion, a part of my soul.  I haven’t felt whole without it.  So I’m going back.  I have applied to my alma mater, SUNY Plattsburgh, to work towards my Certificate of Advanced Study in School Building Leadership.  I’m going back to school, and I haven’t been this excited about anything in a very long time.  Shifting.

Will I be an administrator someday?  Who knows?  My new dreams are not nearly as fully formed as the old ones were.  My future is foggy…I am preparing, but God has not yet unveiled what I am preparing for.  He is simply sending me down this path and I am blindly following, trusting that all will be revealed in time.

The kids are getting older, self-sufficient, involved in their own wonderful things, and I now have the time to devote to something that is all for me.  Shifting indeed.

Good Morning Sue!

Turns out, someone is still checking this blog daily, just waiting for a new post! And to think, I figured my presence here wouldn’t be missed! *waves to Sue*

Obviously, I took a little break. As I told my friend, so much has been going on, just in the simple everyday unfolding of life, that for awhile, I found myself sitting down to write, and not knowing where to start. Then so much was happening, but I wasn’t prepared to share it all. When you have to think too hard about *what* to write, then you begin to think *if* you should write, you sort of stop writing altogether. So that’s where I’ve been!

So let’s see…January and February in review, the highlights:

On a worrisome note, Zan’s job is a constant question mark, as his company has experienced lost revenue steadily. People have been leaving in droves, making us feel like he is on the Titanic, wondering if there will be a lifeboat left for him if it sinks into the deep. We take it day by day, and trust that we will be fine no matter what happens, but the unsteadiness under our feet leaves us a bit unsettled.

On a high note, we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in January! We kept it simple with our annual overnight stay in Saratoga Springs, back where it all began. This milestone has given us the opportunity to look back with pride on the life we have built together, and we are thankful for the many blessings that have been given us along the way, most importantly our three healthy, happy, fun, and exhasperating children! My dear husband also gifted me with a beautiful diamond ring to celebrate! It is shaped like a snowflake and I cherish it. (I believe I see his lifelong wish for a Mustang coming true in his future.) 😉

In other news, my sister is expecting her third child in September!! This gives the family much to look forward to, and my dear Mother much to worry about! Neither of her daughters have a great track record in the area of “easy pregnancies,” so of course my Mom won’t rest easy until this sixth grandchild is in her arms with her smiling exhausted daughter by her side. 🙂

Surprisingly, (or not so surprisingly!) we jumped back into the home improvement realm with a little weekend project recently. We tore out a section of cabinets, patched and painted the exposed wall, and relocated another “moveable” cabinet, in order to make room in my kitchen for a new refrigerator. This beautiful thing has 32 cubic feet of space and makes up to 12 pounds of ice a day. I am in love!

IMG_4830We still haven’t put all the finishing touches on the addition (painting the bedroom window frames and adding curtains, another coat of paint on my new doors) but expect spring (if it ever gets here!) will be the time for that. We got a *little* burnt out on projects after the build, so it has been nice to take a pause and just enjoy living in the new space.

On another negative note, my dear husband fell and hurt himself about four weeks ago. He came home from working in the City one night, and as he walked into the bedroom said, “I’m alright, but I had a little accident at work.” A very large (about 2in. x 1 1/2 in.) chunk of skin was taken out of the middle of his forehead, and he looked at me with dried blood still on his face (lovely)…we joked after that it looked like he had grown a third eye. *teehee* After a visit to the ER, and minor surgery in the Plastic Surgeon’s office the next day, my husband is all put back together and healing very well from the ordeal. However, I have a few more gray hairs to show for it. 😉

Back to the happy stuff! We are leaving for Disney on Thursday!!!!! WHOOPWHOOP!!! After a very busy few months (Big Girl preparing for the Spring Musical, and Little Girl [who is not so little anymore] playing basketball all season and preparing for various Viola concerts) we are all looking forward to getting away! Me? I am most excited to feel the warmth of the Sun on my face and shoulders! I swear I haven’t been warmed all the way through since November. To prepare for our trip, I bit the bullet and bought a new point-and-shoot camera, a Sony Cybershot. It will take some getting used to, but I wanted something light to carry around in the parks. This is my first trip to Disney since the Fibro diagnosis and the back issues, so I figured lugging my D90 everywhere would be counterproductive. I really like this little camera…a sample shot:

2013 02 08_7723Lastly (for now,) I am embarking on a new adventure. After thinking about it for five or so years, I have finally decided to run for a position on our local Board of Education. I miss teaching (I left five years ago!) but am not prepared to return to work full time. I think this is one valuable way I can be involved in the educational process at this point in my life. The prospect is a bit intimidating, yet very exciting. 🙂 We shall see where it all leads me, and if I get elected or not. If it is meant to be, it will be.

Still managing my health well. Long naps once every few weeks, weekly chiropractor visits, daily tea, no wheat, caffeine free, acupuncture as needed…it is a full time job to stay on my feet and be at my best, but worth it! 🙂