...for Warmth...

sitting by the fire.
a stranger's smile.
unsolicited help.
a cup of steaming tea.
wrapped in a fuzzy blanket.
my son's palm in mine.

...for Change...

being challenged.
always learning.
a new house.
adding to our family.

...for Love...



I remember when I used to blog.

Blogging brought my husband and me together. Our first interactions were some mildly inappropriate blog comments; we were linked through some mutual friends' blogs. Very few of those friends blog anymore... Dave and I barely do, either.

Blogging also triggered the me to leave one job and begin another. At the time, this was painful and I must admit that there are still some hard feelings associated with the departure. However, it was ultimately a "net good" experience, given the people and experiences I've had since then due to the new environment.

I used to crave the acknowledgement of being added to somebody's link list. It took so much more effort to be recognized as a blogger worthy of interest than it does to add somebody as a Facebook friend. I was also a comment-collector, feeling vindicated when I would reach a high number of comments on a single post. Or, I'd watch my Sitemeter climb and find new heights for daily number of hits, feeling valued.

Inspiration slowed when the baby was born. The time needed to create a worthy blog entry was a ever-dwindling commodity. Facebook siphoned the motivation to take the time to compose a blog entry. Now, my only entries are when I have something that is weighing on my mind and I need a place to vent with relative anonymity and safety.

I don't usually watch Oprah, but last week I did happen to catch the interview with Stephenie Meyer. Did you know that before "Twilight" she had never really written or been published? Inspiration struck her and she went for it, unsure that anything would ever culminate from her efforts.

I find myself with ideas and stories and thoughts rattling through my mind on a daily basis. Occasionally, they keep me awake at night, screaming to be recognized, heard. I'll jot down a couple of notes in case I ever find the time to write about them.

But, come on. I can't even find time to post a thought on this blog regularly. I am working full-time, caring for a toddler, expecting another baby this spring, and working on a second master's degree. Oh, yeah - and we're moving in a week. (I am taking a lunch break from packing at the moment.) How could I ever find time to do something as selfish as blogging with that type of schedule, let alone time to try to write something fictional?

Writing has been a part of my life since before I could form the letters with my small hands; I used to dictate stories to my mother and illustrate them after she'd written out the words. In third grade, I created a class newspaper by hand and photocopied it at my dad's office. I've always been a verbal person and I process my thoughts through language, often preferring to write out my thoughts in a letter or email than try to explain them out loud.

I guess the bottom line is that I miss blogging. I need to do it for myself. For release. For a form of meditation. For a way to connect, not only with other people in the cyberworld, but with myself. When things get crazy, instead of frantically scrolling through lazy Facebook postings, I should take the time to sit down and think about something "real" to write about. Not for comments or site hits... but for me.



Today was a frustrating day.

(Disclaimer: This blog has ceased to become much more than a place for me to occasionally write a post about something that strikes me as worth pondering. No longer do I post to solicit admiration, provide entertainment, or collect comments. If you happen to be one of the few who still checks my blog, feel free to commiserate... Just fair warning that my "audience" when I am writing has slowly changed in the last year or so...)

When I opened my work email box, the first thing that I saw was a short email from an administrator regarding President Obama's upcoming speech. Next week, President Obama is planning on making a short 2-minute speech to the nation's students on the topic of staying motivated and excelling in school. A nice gesture, right?

Apparently not. The political opposition to Obama is so fierce, that our schools are receiving requests from parents to excuse their children from the two-minute cheerleading session from our nation's leader.

Do they think that he is going to address the controversial topic of healthcare to the young minds of America? Are they worried that his charm might brainwash their children into believing that he is actually somebody that students could see as a role model? Maybe he's going to, in one hundred and twenty seconds, turn them in mini-Socialists!!! (*Gasp*)

I'm sorry, but I don't understand. While there has never been any question which side of the aisle that my political ideals gravitate towards, I feel like I have an open mind. If President Bush had wanted to make a short speech to the nation's students, I would have welcomed the opportunity for my son to be exposed to the political leader of the free world. I would have encouraged him to think critically about what was said and to form his own opinions about it, whether they differed from mine or not.

When something as trivial as this becomes a politically charged issue, it makes me feel sad about the state of our nation. I cherish the right to freedom of speech and I am glad that parents have the right to choose what their children are exposed to and what they are not. What saddens me is that people are so entrenched in their political ideals that they can't see the value in anything that has to do with the "opponent" and will dig their heels in if that is what the idealogues tell them that they should do.

I wonder how this country has managed to become so divided. I worry that we will never be able to make progress in any way if both sides refuse to work together to set some common goals. And I wish that we could find some common ground. However, if when one side reaches out a hand and the other simply slaps it away, how is progress to be made?


Let's Have Some Bubbly...

Mom felt guilty after retrieving Sparky from Grambeana's house after the weeklong honeymoon to Jamaica. So, yesterday, I purchased a Bubble Machine for Sparky. We broke it out this morning, and had the time of our lives chasing after these small globes of soap floating across our driveway.


Visiting the Gardens

Grayson and I had the pleasure today of taking a trip to the Missouri Botanical Gardens with some of the other children and moms involved in our playgroup. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect day to make the trip. I really appreciated the time, knowing that I'll be going back to work sooner than expected; the school where I was hired (yesterday!) is on cycles and I'll be going back at the beginning of July. I've also been inspired to try to use our nice camera to capture some great photos of our little Sparkster... Here are some from our trip today.



Last night, we watched a show on the Discovery channel talking about those seventeen-year cicadas. The cicadas' evolutionary trait of "predatory satiation" allows for most of the cicadas to survive the advances of predators based on sheer numbers; there are always enough survivors to ensure procreation. After seventeen years of development as nymphs underground, the surviving adult cicadas only live several weeks... When they die, their bodies decompose and become a part of the soil, providing nutrients for the plants that will then sustain the nymphs who will live underground until the next seventeen-year cycle is complete.

I couldn't avoid making the connection of this circle of life to our pup, Regis. Right now, Regis is laying on the floor near my feet as I type this. I can hear Dave getting his keys now in order to bring him to the veterinarian. This time, it isn't for the chemotherapy that was helping him battle the lymphoma that he was diagnosed with three months ago; that treatment quit working weeks ago. Today, we will say goodbye to Regis.

We knew yesterday that it was time. Regis' lymph nodes were swollen so badly that it looked like he had golf balls stuck in his mouth and cheeks. He had two accidents, unable to make it overnight or let us know during the day that he had to go outside. His food bowl has remained at the same level over the past four days. Instead of bounding down the stairs, following us, he stood at the top, tentatively trying to make the first step, then backing up, knowing that the effort might be too much.

But, knowing that it is time doesn't make it any easier.

This morning, I had an interview. I tried to keep the entire thing out of my mind in order to stay focused. On the way home from the interview, I was torn between wanting to get home to see Regis and spend time with him or driving around for as long as possible, knowing that when I got home, Dave was going to take him to the vet. I kept thinking... "In three hours, in two hours, in one hour..." I saw the blanket in the back seat of the car, used for Regis when we would go "bye-bye." What do we do with the blanket now? Or his leash? Or the goodies that we never had the chance to give him?

When we first found out that Regis had lymphoma three months ago, we decided to have him cremated... We'll keep his ashes and when we move to our 'forever house,' we'll plant a tree and place his ashes beneath it. It seemed like the best way to tribute our friend. Allowing his ashes to become part of a living thing that would be a reminder in our daily lives of the best dog that anyone could ever wish to have.

And I know that the hurt that we have now is only a tiny payoff for the immense love, fun, and comfort that we've shared with Regis over the past years.


Will Work for Paycheck

Searching for a job is extremely humbling. In economic times like these, it is even more so.

Over the past ten years, I've felt confident in my ability to always be able to find a job anywhere I would choose to move. There will always be kids and schools will always need teachers. I have a variety of certifications: Elementary, grades 1-6; Language Arts, grades 5-9; and Gifted Education, grades K-12. Taking a year off to stay home with my son seemed like no big deal when I resigned from my teaching position last May.

Then, the economy tanked.

This spring, I've been sent into a flurry of job applications and resumes. The uncertainty of the future has made Dave and me feel like it would be best for me to go back to work, just in case things get worse before they get better. I spend hours searching school district websites, looking for positions that aren't posted on the clearinghouse site. Every time the phone rings, I hope that it is a district calling to set up an interview. Mostly, I'm disappointed.

About two weeks ago, all of a sudden, my application seemed to make it into the hands of some people who make decisions. Within a single day, I had three interviews set up. Confidence washed over me and I thought that maybe I would have a teaching contract before the wedding.

I have a pretty good ability to assess how the interviews go once I leave. The phone interview went well, but was very brief, and I'm still waiting for follow-up. The interview for an elementary position was pretty tough; they asked a lot of very specific questions about teaching techniques that I haven't implemented because I haven't spent the last six years in the general education classroom. The third interview went extremely well; I quickly got a call for a second interview which I attended last week. With each passing hour, though, I knew that my chances of getting that job offer diminished. By the time the administrator called this afternoon to let me know that they'd chosen another candidate, I was completely unsurprised. Bummer.

There are other opportunities out there and I'm confident that something will work out. I keep telling myself that it isn't so much about me not performing well in the interviews as much as being compared to the interviewees, who may have more experience or expertise in a specific area than I do. It seems that there are a lot of people in similar situations to mine; they've been out of the education field for a while and are now trying to get back into it because they've lost their other jobs or their family needs the additional income. School districts, on the other hand, aren't adding any positions and are filling any openings with people already in the district and cutting those additional jobs.

I'm hopeful that things will work out, hopefully sooner rather than later. But the past three and a half months spent on this job search seem to be dragging on and on into eternity. And it becomes harder and harder to stay optimistic.


The Abandoned Blog

Dear Blog...

I have to apologize for my neglectful nature over the past four months. Although, of course, this neglect didn't just occur overnight. Over the past year or more, I must feel that we've slowly grown more distant. You were needy, I felt too much pressure, and so I began to withdraw. I found other newer and flashier things to occupy my precious computer time... I know that it is a touchy subject, but Facebook and the ability to post in a single sentence seemed so much more efficient.

Then, tonight, I felt a wave of nostalgia. The familiar picture at the top of the page brought a smile to my face. I scanned through post after post, laughing at some, becoming wistful after others, and loving the photos and stories that I was able to share through you. I realized that I missed taking the time to create a post to share with my friends and the opportunity to actually write about something, anything, whether mundane or life-changing.

I must admit that you are often on my mind. Often, I have a quick thought - "Oh, that would make a great blog post!" But, by the time I have a chance to take a seat at my computer, I'm consumed with writing a paper for class or scoping the net for a new job. Not to add into the fact that little Sparky is no longer extremely keen on allowing Mommy to have computer time.

But, no more excuses. While I can't promise to be here everyday, I'm going to take the time nurture you back to health. A regular post now and then, with an update about Sparky or some nuance that I have to share will be good. I like to memorialize events here... It was a nice time to look back through the older posts and remember the good times. I hope that we can continue where we left off.



Guaranteed to make you smile!!!

And I'm not just saying that because he's my son!