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2017, man. What a ride so far, eh? I think it’s safe to say that in the last two months we have seen both the ugliest and most beautiful parts of humanity. I never knew I could be so skeptical and yet so optimistic at the same time. I think I’ve been doing the same thing as many others; sifting through the ugly, looking for silver linings in an ocean of differing opinions. And deciphering the sentiments of a nation divided is a lot like Alice jumping through rabbit holes, unsure of what she’s looking for or what even comes next.

For those of you who don’t already know, I’m a public school teacher. Furthermore, I’m a teacher in a school with a diverse multicultural population. I get the joy of guiding our littlest scholars from the very beginning towards academic enthusiasm. Or rather, I try to. So yes, I was part of that collective sigh when it was recently announced who would be appointed at the top of the educational food chain in D.C. I worry like many others because I’m actually down here, in the trenches. Let me tell you, teachers are amazing human beings. All things considered – our lack of funding for things as paramount as technology and as simple as enough toilet paper distribution to manage the school – all of the educators I know are still marching on. It’s what we do. Because it’s not about us. I’ve got 25 kindergarteners, from all different backgrounds, who depend on me daily. So even though things have gotten ugly, I’m not peacing out. Because that changes nothing.

Each and every one of us in this country today is playing a subtle role in what feels like one of Shakespeare’s tragedies. And I think many angry people could learn a lot from the public educators who have dedicated their careers to children. We’ve handled numerous blows in recent years with an articulate grace. Please, ask me my thoughts on the voucher system. Or the pay scale for the professional career I have devoted my life to for the last decade. I will tell you what I know without bias or slant to the truth. I will share with you my “war” stories and the triumphs and tragedies of plowing through a whole mess of ridiculousness for the greater good of education that matters. Switching lenses to an even bigger political picture, I think we’ve certainly lost sight of some of the most beautiful threads in the fabric of our nation.

I’m not a hard core liberal or a die-hard conservative. I’m just an American, trying to carve out my existence somewhere in the middle. I’m a person who sees compromise as the only answer to a whole lot of messy questions right now. It’s what I use in my classroom daily. That and a whole lot of empathy. Because I haven’t been in every little person’s shoes who comes up for hugs in the mornings. I’m just there to love them and encourage them to the best of my ability.

Every year I teach a unit about simple machines. If you exist somewhere in the kingdom of academia you’ve probably heard the acronym STEM. It stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. There has been a huge push in this direction with good reason. We want kids these days on the cutting edge. It totally makes sense. The irony lies in the lack of funds to do so. Anyway, I digress.

So, in simplest terms, the “fulcrum” is the part of simple machine where movement happens. It is the pivot point. Without the fulcrum you are dead in the water, so to speak. The load has nowhere to go and “force” becomes moot. I think 2017 is definitely a fulcrum year. We are at a pivotal state of being and could shift in any given direction at this point. The weight of this country is heavy and the force being utilized for change feels unstable and inconsistent. That last statement points fingers at no one particularly. It’s going to take all of us to move the load. Go ahead, re-read that last sentence.

Reality is this: Life is not about highlight reel. We’ve all got one of those. It’s also not about who gets the best snarky jab in out here on the interwebs. And it’s not about shaking our angriest fists. I mean, we could all do that. The pharmaceutical industry would love it. High blood pressure and anti-depression medication usage is probably soaring at the moment. But the beauty of real change relies on the slow steady heartbeat that incessantly plows through all the hardship. That may be a tough pill to swallow, but it is what it is. And without the ups and downs of the proverbial rollercoaster, there would be no ride. We must go through turmoil if we are ever going to make change. It’s true. Turn around and look back in history. All major shifts in the direction of this country come after certain disorder. We can do this. We’ve done it many times before.

Don’t forget once in a while to turn around and look back at the chaos from which you personally have overcome. Furthermore, look at all the chaos this country has overcome. You might just see the ashes from which we rose.

 

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Good morning!!!  It’s a beautiful day to be on Thanksgiving vacation!  I have so many zings to share with you, now that I have a little bit of time freed up to do things not considered part of survival mode.   Gosh, where to even start? (Insert favorite thinking face emoji here.) Can you tell I’m winging this?  How about them Cubbies?!?! Oh… and holy tacos, the election is big news.

It’s Saturday morning.  My kids are already up and running wild.  I should probably be doing something motherly like fixing them breakfast.  I’ll get to that.  But Imma take a little selfish ‘me time’ first, with my coffee and my laptop.  This is the first day of an extended holiday break from school. Citizens, do not be fooled.  Teachers get just as excited as the students at the thought of many consecutive days off in a row.

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You know that old cliché, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”?  I think in some creative avenues that is probably true.  To understand joy in a thorough sense it must be seen.  I think the same is true for most emotions and major life events.   My grandfather understood this very well.  I like to think that he was somewhat ahead of his time in many ways.  Upon being drafted for the war back in the 1940s, he only asked for one small thing from his parents:  a collapsible camera.  He knew he was about to embark on something big and he wanted to remember it.  He was the only one he ever remembered seeing with a camera, aside from the press like when Bob Hope came to boost morale.  (I have pictures of that, by the way.)  Fast forward 70 years later and here I am.  A girl blessed with 3 full scrapbooks of life in the South Pacific during World War II.   He would send film back every month to his dad.  And his dad, in return, would send him new film.  Of course, many pictures were censored and discarded by the government before they made it to Brazil, Indiana.  They were deemed inappropriate.  Grumble grumble.  I suppose as a military policeman of the time he saw and had to do things that the government didn’t think his parents or the world needed to see.  But, many made it home.   So this was the start of many blessings.  My sister and I grew up with his stories, his pictures, and his memorabilia.  Don’t worry.  I plan on sharing these someday.   I just haven’t quite put all those ducks in a row yet.

 

And then you had my grandmother.  Small town girl with big dreams and artsy flair.  She was tiny.  About my height.  Heh.  But she never allowed that, or the idea that most women of those times should be homemakers, stop her.  She also understood that pictures were worth a thousand words.  But, when she met my grandfather (post war time, long interesting story – don’t worry, will tell it too someday) and saw his photos, she decided that pictures will someday need words.  Everything needs words.  Because no one lives forever.  She had the foresight to know that without written stories, pictures lose meaning over the years.

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I woke up today feeling extra snotty.  By snotty I mean full of boogers.  How’s that for a hook line?

 

Huge inhale in.

 

Yep.  I immediately imagine those little cartoon snot characters from the Mucinex-D commercial.  Every time I blow my nose I demand their presence be made so that we can discuss this mutiny.  You know the feeling.  When you wake up and your whole wind pipe is several centimeters smaller than the night before because said cartoon boogers have formed a cavalry line to block the intake of sweet oxygen.

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Well, it happened.  I finished my 30 days of blogging and I face-planted in cyber dirt.  It’s been close to a week now.  The grand finale of busy October ended with wrapping up parent conferences, Halloween activities at school, Halloween fun at home, and attending a wedding.  Yes, I said wedding.  So here I am, trying to get back on track and produce something of substance and effort for this little blog o’ mine. My site traffic is down due to my inactivity.  Sad face.  Share me with your friends, please! Well, not ME.  That would be weird.  I meant the website.  I’m cool and funny.  I’ve got great white girl dance moves and a sense of humor.

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Wouldn’t it be sweet if fake flowers for outdoor landscaping was a thing?  I mean, consider this seriously.  Vibrant color all year long.  No watering.  No trimming.  No maintenance!  Such were my thoughts this evening as I pulled in the drive to check out my dehydrated mums.  See?  I think one of them just coughed up dust.

 

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Overturned mum. Is this symbolic of my inability to keep these things alive?

 

I LOVE mums.  I buy them every year.  And I fail to take them out of their little pots.  And I let them wither.  And then they die.  Because I’m an awful person and I lack a green thumb.  One could argue it’s more a lack of time than plant knowledge.  I say it’s a good combo of both.

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Upon opening the door to my class bathroom, I had but one thing in mind.  I’ve got less than a minute and a half to get in and get out of here and get my kids picked up at recess.  How does this happen?  How do I manage to run around my room for approximately 38 minutes and some change, cleaning prepping, organizing.  Where does the time go?  Did I even eat?  I glance over at the half eaten celery stick and crumbs on my desk.  Well, sort of.

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One of my favorite places to frequent around here is Starbucks.  Starbucks in October is especially divine.  Yep. I am a mini-van driving mom that loves her pumpkin spice latte.  A lot of you can relate to some or all of that.  Maybe not the super cool mini-van part.  Hey!  I had a Hummer for a while.  Until some of the super important engine-y parts went bad and I was forced to trade it in.  Sorry, I’m not so good with highly technical terms on car parts.  You can see my post on woodscrews (The Perpetual  Short Straw) if you’d like a more thorough feel of my shortcomings.

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Advice and opinions.  I think they’re related.  Siblings?  No.  That would be saying they’re very similar.  Maybe cousins.  Yes, cousins.  We all like to give advice, most generally based on our own opinions and experiences.  “Experiences” we can consider the wise old uncle of the family.  I’m so sorry that I personify most everything.  I’ve done it for years. If you find it annoying, well then, go away.

 

Here’s some advice of practical nature:  don’t start a blog.  You’ll start feeling obligated to share the tidbits of mindless debris that float around inside that big cavern known as your head.  Posts that give others the feels or the giggles seem to be the most popular, by the way.  In case you’re considering toeing the line.

 

You know that one famous movie where the guy says,  “Mayday! Mayday! Mav’s in trouble!  He’s in a flat spin heading out to sea!”  Is this you?  Do you need to re-engage?  If you’ve never heard of Top Gun I’d like to know which rock you’ve been hiding under.  Are you hearing Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” in your head right now?

 

Me neither.   Because that would be weird.

 

Back to my point.  I spent a little time yesterday sharing my thoughts and excerpts of your thoughts in regards to advice and all things serious.  Today is Part 2.  Every good post or movie deserves a part 2.  It’s like the ugly step-sister that usually falls flat on her face at the Box Office.  Why ruin a good thing, you ask?  Because that’s human nature!!  Ain’t nobody likes to leave well enough alone!!

 

Advice:  Part Deuce.

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I have a confession to make.  I forgot to brush my teeth this morning.  Disgusting, I know.  I got so caught up in racing around the kitchen, packing lunches, and making sure that my hair looked decent (because, you know…narcissism) that I literally forgot to brush my teeth.  Don’t worry, I’m also resourceful!  Good thing the Treasure Box in my classroom had that ninja turtle one all shiny and new.  So, hi.  Good evening.  I primp too much sometimes and brush my teeth two minutes shy of my students walking in the room.  I know what you’re thinking.  It’s an art, really.

 

I don’t share my daily fails with you for laughs.  Ok, well, yes I do.  More importantly than that, I share them with you because they’re honest. A little glimpse into the repetitive humdrum of the Groundhog Day. (You’ll have to hit the archives for my Blessed Day post.)  The big things on those days are always the same – but it’s the little stuff, the improv if you will, that makes life interesting.

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