11 hours ago
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Tomorrow is the last day of school. Sigh. It's just been so fun, especially since the pressure of testing has been missing. Today we had a fifth grade kickball tournament and I laughed my head off, both games, while pretending to referee between home and first. To be clear, I wasn't laughing at the children. I'm not into ridicule. I was just enjoying seeing them figure things out in a different setting. I love how the children coach each other. There are these really athletic, been-doin'-sports-since-diapers, competitive children yelling orders at kids who've never kicked a ball in their whole lives! Kids who have the guts to play, but they have no clue how this game works or what the rules might happen to be. The vocabulary alone can be overwhelming to a non-sport sort. One girl was up to kick. She tried. Her shoe flew into the air. She tried again. Strike two. She went behind the backstop as her classmates patiently explained she had to keep trying. It was still her turn. She mustered and went back to home plate. Got a foul. Gave up for good this time. We all pretended it never happened. One boy was wearing jeans a few sizes too large. I say large, but that was in the waist. As far as length goes...pretty much high water. White socks. Glasses. Such a doll-love him. He kicked fairly well, surprising the whole outfield, and made it to first base with both hands never leaving his waistband, avoiding disaster. Soon after that, he slid into home scoring a run while his shoe came off, but not his pants! After that, he just dropped out. All done playing. Hanging out on the sidelines. And then he decided to randomly catch a foul ball. A very shy, reluctant girl was coaxed into kicking. She made a couple of attempts and finally performed decently enough to run to first. Lucky for her, they overthrew and she made it fair and square. A boy started to coach her and she next made it to second. And then she decided that was enough kickball for her. She walked toward me so I tried to urge her to head back to second for the next kicker and she refused. "I'm tired." That's all she said. So proud of her. In this case, getting to second was like qualifying for the Olympics. She's an amazing person and sometimes I think God might love her best. One of my favorite things, this is going to sound horrible, was the two jocks that smashed into each other as they both tried to catch the fly, both dropping it, and both blaming each other, complete with sour faces and growling. The testosterone was everywhere. Such boys. It wasn't all Bad News Bears. My class actually won their first game and we tied for the championship. Everyone cheered for everyone. Nobody laughed or teased even when students chose to up and quit, even after making it clear to second. Part of the joy of the afternoon was seeing how readily they all accepted the faults of each other. "Oh well. Let's move on." I learned a lot today.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
When I asked my administrator about attending Mrs. B's funeral, he was against the idea of me taking personal leave. One of the aides at our school covered my class for me for less than an hour which worked out with lunch and other scheduling so that I could dash over, slide into a seat in the back and enjoy the uplifting talks and music. The music was provided by the nieces and nephews--very professional and lovely. Another niece gave the Life Sketch, the father-in-law, a patriarch, spoke next, followed by the big brother, then the bishop, and last of all the stake president. All wonderful talks. Such a strong network of loving family members. I took notes as I have at other funerals, but I'll just share one of the last thoughts presented in the service by the stake president, paraphrased: "We do not focus on the dieing Christ who was crucified by displaying symbols of the cross. Rather, we worship the Living Christ who was resurrected so that we may also be resurrected. Please do not think of the pain that Marlene endured. Do not focus on that aspect of her life. Remember the Jubilant Marlene." And then...one more observation about Mr. B. He wasn't about to let go of her until he had no other choice. He followed her casket into the chapel (helped push or steer perhaps, I was way in the back and couldn't see everything, that's just how it looked to me). He was listed as a pallbearer (unless there's another relative by the same name) in the program. He was doing his duty, everything in his power, to see it all through. I shared this with K and he said, "Yes, if you died, I would want to be one of your pallbearers." This surprised me because he doesn't do well, at all, at funerals. I guess I've always thought of pallbearers as grandchildren, nephews, uncles, or dear friends, not direct, immediate family or spouses. And then my Sweetie said, "And I would want to speak at your funeral." I asked, "Really? Wouldn't you be too emotional or something?" He said, "Maybe, but I would want to make sure people knew some very special things about you." Awww...love him! And then he said, "Please don't die anytime soon."
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Just returned from a viewing. Mrs. B. succumbed to a long battle with MS. Mrs. B was younger than I. I learned some things at the viewing and although I'm not going to list them here in some organized way, I hope I can record a couple of things that will remind me later about best ways to live. PARAGRAPH! I met Mr. B. back in '93 when I was hired to teach fifth grade in Utah. He and some other fantastic people were on my team. So lucky for me! Mrs. B. was teaching at another school at the time. She was already battling some serious illnesses. I left that school to help open my current school and one year later Mrs. B. transferred over. She and I didn't teach on the same grade level, but it felt good to have "family" around again. PARAGRAPH! Talk about "soldiering!" That's what Mrs. B. did. She taught as long as she could. She loved the children. Her job kept her going. In my opinion, she was a fine example to all of us in handling very difficult trials with grace. I heard someone say about her tonight, "I loved her face the most. She always looked like she had the characteristics of an angel." When I went through the line at the mortuary, I looked at the photos and the momentos from her life and this thought surged through my mind, "Heavenly Father, help me to be more like her. And more like Thee." PARAGRAPH! First I met Mr. B.'s parents. They said their daughter-in-law was "a real special girl." Total understatement. They talked about losing a daughter of their own. I told them I remembered when their family was going through that. They also said they lost infant twin girls. Had no idea. Loved being in their presence until the line moved. PARAGRAPH! Then I met Mrs. B's siblings. They all look alike. So dignified. So calm. United strength. They practically screamed "Happy Childhood!" One sister mentioned something about probably teasing Mrs. B. a little too much when they were young. Aww...completely normal. Such a loving family. PARAGRAPH! Then I met Mrs. B.'s darling parents. They too lost a child in infancy, a son. It's interesting that these two sets of parents have such parallels. Mrs. B's mother said, "I know she was sick most of the time while she was teaching, but I hear she was still a pretty good teacher." Yes, she was. Your daughter was "pretty amazing." On so many levels. PARAGRAPH! Finally, I reached Mr. B. himself. I noticed something about him that I have never seen at any other viewing. He would not turn away from his wife. Some people stand at the end of the casket and after you greet them, you look at the body. Some stand at the head of the casket, so you see the body first and then greet the spouse. Some stand in front of the body with their back to the dead. But not Mr. B. His back was to the line coming through and he continually faced the casket. He did not turn away. I thought that was grand, darling, appropriate, and such a testimony of their eternal love and dedication toward each other. PARAGRAPH! I hugged Mr. B. and then we stood side by side looking at Mrs. B. I got a little choked up and expressed some regret that K and I hadn't visited more often than we did. The ever humble Mr. B. said, "Now don't you worry about that." He spoke so fondly of her. He expressed gratitude that she's not in pain anymore. He said, "That's what we've been praying for...that she could find relief from her pain." He also said, "I've got some tough days ahead of me." I couldn't help it, I said, "I think you've already been through some of those!" PARAGRAPH! And that was it. Short and sweet. But it impacted my life. I've had the pleasure of knowing the B's for nineteen years and I've been watching them and learning from them the whole entire time. They gave us a ceramic statue of the Savior, which Mr. B. made himself, for our wedding. It sits on a shelf in our living room. They wrote a message on the bottom of it, dated it, and signed their names. We looked at it after we got the phone call on Saturday afternoon and it hit me just then that Mrs. B's name will always be in our home, appropriately attached to an image of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
So...I took a sick day on Friday for medical appointments. I managed to drag K along with me to the dermatologist. For years now, I've been going annually to disrobe, get inspected for keratoses, and then become the recipient of some fairly harsh treatments, namely the spraying of liquid nitrogen on my face to freeze off those keratoses, which are pre-cancerous cells. If left untreated, they WILL progress to skin cancer. It's a proven fact. The damage was done in my youth. These days, I'm a proponent of sunscreen, longer sleeves, and wide brimmed hats. I just embrace my caucasian-ness. Since I have no paragraphing ability yet with blogger, I will continue to ramble on! Last year, Carrie, the dermatologist, began the exam by saying, "Have you noticed anything?" I pointed to spots on my face that I had noticed. She said, "Well, you know what comes next!" And then with no time to breathe...sh, sh. Shhh, shh..." And it does hurt. But not to the point of tears. It's not as bad as getting cortisone shots in your heels or having an HSG or a few other things I can think of. This year, she said, "Let's start with your back and then we'll look at your face last." She does a full, thorough exam, but it's quick. And right before she sprayed my face, she said, "My apologies." Of course, I had to be tough, because K was sitting right there in his first ever dermatology appointment watching my reactions. I only had two spots this year: one on the left cheek and one on my upper lip. The blister on my lip now looks like a cold sore and just like a cold sore, it's going to take about ten days to clear up. Oh joy. At least we can say she saved my life. K was more concerned about a couple of moles, but she said he "may keep those." Nothing dangerous. However, while inspecting him, she found THREE keratoses! Ouchie. I felt really bad for him, because one was on his ear--so tender. One was on his nose. The third was on his back. He's still not convinced the appointment was worthwhile, but I really like K and would like to have him NOT succumb to melanoma. Ya know? While treating us, she told us about some of the old farmers she's sees and how they have thirty or FORTY spots that need to have treated every year. I guess she sprayed this one guy like forty times and after the spots had blistered and started to scab, a friend of his said, "You know, you really need to see a dermatologist!" One time when I got sprayed, both my lead supervisor at the cave and the law enforcement ranger asked if K was treating me well! When I lived in Hawai'i, I always noticed at the beach that the locals would hang back under the palm trees in the shade. Even when they went into the water, if they were just hanging around in the water, they would keep a large, wide-brim, straw hat on at all times. Not the haoles, boy. The haoles would bake ALL DAY in the sun. I hope they're enjoying their dermatology appointments as much as I am. Years ago, my teammate, Calvan, and my friend, Sterling, both went to the doctor for moles on their ears. Both were malignant. Both had parts of their ears cut off. Both had lymph nodes removed. Calvan died and Sterling lived. Don't play around with this stuff, folks. If you keep your yearly appointment with the dermatologist, they can promise you that you will never die from skin cancer. Sounds like a deal to me! Are you still reading at this point? I'll make the eye doctor a shorter story. Later in the day, I went for my annual eye exam. For the first time EVER, my eye pressure was in normal ranges! Still on the high end, but the scores actually landed in normal ranges. We/I/They have no control over this pressure by the way. However, high pressure before has always meant "glaucoma suspect." For one day at least, I didn't get that title. I have never been to an eye exam where they did not have to give me TWO sets of dilating drops. Brown eyes don't dilate as well as blue and my brown eyes are especially stubborn. It takes longer while you're in their office and it takes longer to recover. I wasn't much good for anything until about six in the evening. Then I felt like my eyes were mostly back with me again. SO thankful for access to healthcare!!!
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Monday, May 14, 2012
So...it seems like I've had some of the most incredible room mothers on the planet. The other day, mine brought a Mangoberry Salad from Zuppa's for my lunch. She started preparing way ahead of time with a pirate theme for teacher appreciation week. She had my students write these really sweet notes to me about being the "Treasure." She decorated the door, brought flowers, collected donation money for the Barnes & Noble gift card, AND...brought popsicles for the class (donated by another previously mentioned mother). The notes are my favorite. Chocolate pales in comparison to notes. These parents are phenomenal, I tell you. Phenomenal.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
I was invited to walk across the street from my school to have lunch at the home of a student of mine. It was amazing! All of the teachers at my school who have taught any of the five children of this family were invited. It was sort of an open house since we all have varying lunch schedules. The incredible mother of these children prepared Chicken Braid and bowtie pasta. The chicken braid was a delicious mix of chicken and other stuff baked inside some beautiful bread served with sauce. I can't name all the ingredients in the pasta salad, but it was first rate! They also had fruit and donut kabobs (donut holes mixed in with several berries) and Chocolate Lasagna, a lovely dessert. We sat at their diningroom table and chatted and ate. If you can imagine, SHE thanked US for coming! She also talked about sending her "treasures to school every day knowing they are in the best hands." It's very humbling to hear a parent talk like that. But she's right, her son IS a treasure and he's got a gem of a mother.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
You're just going to have to visualize this! It's Teacher Appreciation Week and I don't know how it's possible, but the PTA just put on the most amazing luncheon ever. All of the previous luncheons have been so wonderful, but somehow, they've outdone themselves. The faculty room was decorated from floor to ceiling, literally. There were tiny white lights installed above all of the tables and around the room with extra fake plants brought in for the mood (regular overhead lights turned off). All of the tables were covered with red gingham. Vases of pasta and bottles of Italian soda decorated each table with baskets of grapes. There were posters around the room of Roma and other Italian icons. Vinyl letters decorated the wall: Ciao Amore! They had a huge pasta bar with four kinds of pasta, meatballs, chicken, and two sauces: alfredo and marinara. Following that were the most beautiful roasted vegetables you have ever seen in your entire life including broccoli, carrots, and baby reds. Then there was a big green salad with those wonderful olives (not sure what the name is), followed by an amazing basket of freshly baked rolls which had Italian herbs--fresh, hot, soft, and delicious! There was a soda bar with a variety of flavors and a cute poster demonstrating for us first timers how to build an Italian soda. Now I know! And cute straws to boot! Dessert? Trifle. Uh huh, TRIFLE. Who does that? I just can't imagine that any other faculty ate any better than we did yesterday. So incredible. All of the teachers were oohing and aahing while dining. Could NOT get over it! PERFECTO!
Sunday, May 6, 2012
There will be a couple of simple photographs later in the post. Also, I still haven't solved the paragraph problem (drives me NUTS!), so sorry about that. Our weekend didn't turn out the way we had hoped. We were actually going to visit Antelope Island yesterday (I've never been but K has). Something else became the priority. K and I haven't had the same regularly scheduled day off from work together since early February. I had to take personal leave once so we could do our taxes. Yesterday was our first day off together in MONTHS! And this is how it all went down. Warning--the adventure is mostly his, not mine.