Tuesday, December 29, 2015


- I'm ready for Christmas to be over now, and I'm ready to start getting ready for the next thing. I'm feeling the itch to start organizing, cleaning, paring down... "taking stock" for a new year. I took a few days off next week, and I'm planning on trying to find a balance between getting things accomplished and resting (physically and mentally). Then I jump back into my regular schedule on all fronts again, which looks like it will continue to alternate between less busyish and just completely insane weeks. ;) I'll take it!

- So I took Abigail ice skating yesterday (Monday) and I have to admit that I wasn't sure if this was a good idea.  She's not always into new things, especially if they're things that she doesn't master right away, and we drove up in my truck and met everyone else because I honestly wasn't sure if she'd last very long. And after the first lap around the rink, she asked for a break, and I thought, oh, this is it. She's going to be done. So we sat on the bench and I casually mentioned how skating was a lot like swimming, it took a lot of new muscles and balance skills and took a bit of time to figure out - remember when you couldn't swim? Yup, lol, that seems funny now that you swim like a fish! - skating is like that. And after a minute she got back on the ice and we went around again. We stopped for breaks, sure (as much for me as for her - my wide barefoot loving feet cramp terribly in the narrow skates!) but after a minute or two she always wanted to go out again. By the end of the session she tried it on her own for about ten feet with me spotting her, and Maggie and I made a big fuss over how proud we were. :) And I was!

- ... You know what's coming, right? I miss "my" kids. I miss "my" coaches. Every time I've been stressed out in the last two weeks (which, you know, has kinda been often), I've itched to get back to "my" pool - my happy place. I'm anxious to get everything rolling again. I feel unmoored without my kids. :(
On the other hand - and this, this is HYSTERICAL - I've run into several swim team families since we've been on break (the lessons program, not the swim team) and every time - EVERY TIME! - they greet me, then get this incredibly guilty look on their face and mumble something along the lines of, "We haven't been to practice this week/we've been taking a break/there's so much to do during the holidays/etc." And I'm just like, dude, when did I become the principal? Lol. For one, I'm not part of the swim team staff (though probably,  since half the people on deck call me by my boss's name, they're confused about that, too), and I haven't been on deck since before Christmas,  so you're safe. And second - no, that's pretty much it. :) The best part of my job is being able to love on everybody while feeling absolutely no need to guilt them. ;)

- So I need to buy some dresses. I own two dresses, and one is scarcely more than a beach dress made just barely decent with a cardi and a scarf. And I have been everywhere looking, willing to spend money on them (after all, I only need a few good dresses to pull out for church and showers and weddings, and events of that kind), but I can't find anything I like. I can't remember ever having this much trouble when I was living with my parents and only allowed to wear dresses or skirts, so I'm thinking it's me that's changed? Which makes me wonder... is it that after three years of wearing jeans, dresses just feel strange? Or is it a deeper,  subconscious resistance to going back to that time of my life, where men/fundamentalist subculture/empty religious rules spent 90% of their energy telling me how to dress, what was permissible for me to do as a woman, and extolling the virtues of patriarchal submission? I honestly don't know, and I'm not sure how to deal. I love the look of a good dress, I love the way they look on other women,  I can remember dresses that have made me feel beautiful and empowered and happy. But I put them on and they feel wrong and I want them off. I fear the well has been poisoned for me. :(

- My mom got me an essential oils starter kit for Christmas after I (hesitantly) admitted that I wanted to learn to use them (I've resisted for a long time because it seemed like everyone who was into essential oils also felt that they were a "miracle cure" for everything, rendering modern medicine unnecessary, and I just don't buy that, but I've had good luck using some herbs and extracts in the last three years of health insurancelessness, and I would love to use them similarly - not in place of modern medicine, but as more of a wellness aid. Just had to throw that disclaimer out there!). I used the orange and lavender oils immediately on my new pillows and I've been enjoying them (although, ironically, I've been sleeping horribly ever since. Probably not related - I never sleep well during a full moon - but funny). I wore a little bit of peppermint oil one day when I was particularly exhausted (more on this later) and it also seemed to help. I'm really looking forward to buying a diffuser and using some lime oil, which is supposed to help with mental clarity - I can ALWAYS use more of that!

- And last but not least, I'm tired. I've shorted myself a little too much sleep for a little too long and now I'm just beat. At this point I'm sort of surviving from one nap to the next, bolstered in between by coffee and... no, pretty much just coffee. ;) Between the long weekend and my time off I have five days off in a row, and I still can only sleep in on one of those days. I'm thinking a lot of early nights are in order!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Best Kind Of Gift

You know those "this is it" moments, those times where you pause and realize that life is beautiful, those small things that make it "worth it"?

Yeah. Having one of those right now...

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Deflated Cheer


(Where do I even begin?)

I knew last week was going to be busy and I was braced for it. I did a good job of keeping a half step ahead of everything by never stopping to think - just go! do! accomplish!  - and I kept my eye firmly fixed on what, in my mind,  was the magical turnover point: Saturday. On Friday night, when I got off work, I would officially be down to one job only for the next two weeks, I had tickets to go see A Christmas Carol with family and friends on Saturday, and I relished the thought of a slower, restful, soul - reviving pace for the holiday. Hot tea. Sitting by the lighted tree. Luxurious afternoon naps followed by late nights wrapping presents. Playing card games with my family. Watching holiday movies with Maggie or my dad. Time to reflect and make plans and anticipate the coming year.

It's kind of symbolically appropriate, then, that we left the theater in the intermission of "A Christmas Carol" to rush to the hospital where Liz was transferred to the ICU.

In the end, it could be much worse.  A life - changing diagnosis, yes, but one that will be manageable once she's stablized. Still, the stress levels around here are running high, and my Christmas spirit is a bit deflated. I'm tired. :( Not feeling the happy, not feeling the cheer, but I am feeling grateful, and I'm hoping that will be (as it so often is) a back door into joy.

In rhe meantime, things I'm resting on:

- MB and I were working in the kitchen last week, chatting while the kids napped, and I made an offhand comment about the year before I came to work for them being a long, and often hard, one. She then told me, "We definitely needed you in our lives. I like to think you needed us, too." I probably did not respond to this as well as I should have because I was so touched, but it's a moment I've held close ever since. I totally needed them, no doubt about it. I am incredibly honored that they need me, too.

- Swim boss sent me a video of his daughter eating macaroons I sent home with him for Christmas,  she is just about the most adorable tot ever, and pretty much every time I've felt defeated since then I've pulled it up to rewatch. And it always makes me laugh. :) I have awesome bosses.

- Cris, who was with me in the theater when we got the news and who is always my "got your back, show up when the going gets rough" person in a crisis, sent Maggie and me a video this morning of baby bunnies in cups. Seriously. It's the most ridiculous thing (I was initially puzzled - kept asking Maggie, "Why are there baby bunnies in cups? !") but also so cute and slightly hysterical (especially if you were up late at the hospital and are running low on sleep and high on stress). See? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hh9lWK-iwc&sns=em

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Notes On Teaching Literature

Once upon a time, I taught a literature/writing class once a week through a homeschool co-op. I loved it, discovered my love of teaching there, and got very positive feedback (from both parents and students)(although now that I think about it,  parents stressed me out then, too!). I taught for two years (or was it three?) and only stopped when the co-op shut down. It was invaluable in terms of the experience ggained and the lessons learned, far from least of which was the concept of breaking big skills into smaller "bites." I look back at my lesson plans, the teaching materials I designed (I was on a shoestring budget so everything - handouts, tests and quizzes, assignments, etc - I created myself), and I'm still pleased with it.

But that was over five years ago,  and I'd forgotten certain things.  For instance,  how much work is involved. ;)

I've been teaching Ruth and Dari writing and literature this whole semester, and it's been challenging in ways I didn't expect. It's been a little harder to motivate them than I thought it would be. But we are finally,  blessedly down to our last two weeks of class before Christmas break,  and we're finishing up with one of my favorite pieces of lit: A Christmas Carol.

Some brief notes on what we're doing (since we've strayed very far from the syllabus at this point and I want to remember what we did):

- I typed up a short, 2 - page handout on the life of Dickens and the reception of ACC and surprisingly,  this was one of the parts of the lesson the girls liked the best! They liked that Dickens tried to affect change through his writing, and that his works were focused on working people. They LOVE reading descriptions of him reading ACC out loud, which segued nicely into our first "exploration" of the text, which was. ..

- ...Reading the first chapter (well, most of it anyway!) out loud. I expected this to be met with groans of misery, but it was met with enthusiasm, and they got more into it the more we read. We started off alternating paragraphs, then when we reached dialogue we assigned characters and a narrator. Inspired by the aforementioned descriptions of Dickens readings, we all read with as much feeling and acting as possible. We read very informally, stopping to discuss unfamiliar words or phrases as they came up, or act out parts they didn't understand.

- The writing journal assignment for this segment is pretty simple: I generated a lot of blank cluster diagrams and the girls are required to "analyze" each character using specific examples from the text to back up their claims (for instance, one of their characterizations of Scrooge could be "miserly," and the evidence for this would be that he saw Marley's death as "a bargain," only let Bob Cratchett have a single coal, and liked the dark because it was cheap). They have to re-analyze Scrooge every chapter, plus two other characters in the book.

- We'll spend two weeks discussing ACC, culminating in a trip to a nearby theater to see it performed on stage, and our final assignment will be their choice: either an essay tracing Scrooge's transformation (using their journal entries) or a reflection essay exploring the differences between the book and the staged performance. Then we're done for the semester!  :)

On the agenda for next semester: I know we're doing Animal Farm, and beyond that my plans are fluid (meaning,  I need to figure them out! ;)).

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Loving Lately

- Getting a chance to teach my friend Cris how to swim (she's going to be good!).

- Starbucks Holiday Spice Flat White (oh my gosh. So amazing)

- The way the triplets have wholeheartedly and exuberantly embraced Christmas and get so excited whenever we do or see anything Christmas-related.

- Lucy's recent obsession with a capella groups (we're playing a whole lot of Straight No Chaser,  Pentatonix,  and GLAD).

- The way that all three kids sat spellbound through the entire Hallelujah Chorus last night when I played it for them for the first time.

- Impromptu Dr Who watching parties where everyone shows up in holiday pajamas and much popcorn is consumed (and spilled!).

- Driving home from work late at night and seeing all the holiday lights.

- Celebrating one of my coach's birthdays this week with treats that turned out pinterest-worthy.

- Getting to do a lot of hands - on coaching this week (always makes me happy!).

- Making plans for the new year, and all the exciting things it will hold. :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Holiday Bucket List 2015

I've never posted a holiday bucket list so late, but the truth is I've been so busy actually doing bucket-list-worthy things that I haven't had a moment to post! :) Obviously, since we're only a few weeks away from Christmas Day (eep!), a lot of these I've already completed. Enjoy!
1. Drink a Holiday Spice flat white
2. Listen to the all-Christmas music station on the radio
3. Drive around to see Christmas lights
4. Take a nap and stay up late wrapping presents
5. Meet a friend for pie
6. Go on a shopping trip just to buy Christmas cards
7. Bake cookies for my coaches
8. Take a holiday picture
9. Read the Christmas story
10. Read A Christmas Carol (and go see it on stage!)
11. Send Advent gifts in the mail to Khy
12. Watch holiday movies
13. Be kind
14. Go see the new Star Wars movie
15. Burn holiday candles
16. Give thanks
17. Put up the tree and decorate the trailer
18. Watch "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" with the triplets
19. Write thank-you cards for the team
20. Make a Christmas craft with the triplets
21. Take Abby on a donuts-and-hot-chocolate date