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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 experienced something new recently that I felt compelled to share with you.  Chess.  Not that the game of chess is new, but I went to my first tournament last week.  No, I am not a player.  No, I do not understand the rules.  My son, however, has taken a recent interest.  He joined the chess club at school and has been practicing with friends and teachers after school every Thursday for a while now.

 

I smile at the idea of my son playing chess because he is never one to sit still.  He moves a mile a minute all day long.  He struggles to sit in his chair during the school day.  Not that he can’t pay attention, he just prefers to stand.  He plays sports.  Lots of them.  He loves soccer, football, and wrestling.  He needs a means to exert energy daily.  He has yet to learn the value of being still.  Or, so I thought.  But observing from a distance in a middle school cafeteria, watching him play in this tournament, he was engaged.  Still.  I think he likes the challenge.  I don’t know much about it, but I know it’s a game of strategy.  I admire that competitive component of his DNA.  I also admire his fearlessness.  He doesn’t shy away from much.  Except bugs.  His sister loves to chase him with creepy crawlies.

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Social media observation of the day:  weekend status updates aren’t quite as witty as those posted through the work week.  Agree?   Maybe you do, maybe you don’t.  I’m just saying.  I said so myself earlier this week – it seems like we do our best work in the 11th hour.   From the fountain of “busy” springs forth creativity.  Or witty remarks or what have you.  Maybe I just appreciate the candid off the cuff stuff more.  Don’t get me wrong.  I think we all deserve down time.  For myself, that comes on the weekend.  It’s not like I’m actually kicked back on a meditation pillow and letting sunlight fill my soul from Friday night to Sunday.  I just have a little more time to process and think about things other than #werk.  Oh, and time to listen to Adele.  Because I’m currently a little obsessed with her newest single.  Talk about raw emotion and whoa factor.  Inspiring.   Anyway, brace yourself darlings.  I’ve had some think time.

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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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This Saturday morning started off the same as they usually do.  There’s something precious about routine.  I opened my eyes to find my 4 year old’s feet about 2 inches from my face.  Slowly, very slowly I roll the other direction.  Any sudden movements and I could lose an eyeball.  I try my best to slither my way out of bed.  You see, it’s just now 6:30.  This equates an hour of “sleep in” time from my weekly routine.  And if I play my cards right, I just might get an hour or two of ALONE time before the miniatures start rousing.  SQUEE!!!!

 

First things first – coffee.   Well almost.  The dog is dancing around my feet.  This is also an hour past normal “potty” time.  If I walk too briskly  to let her out, she starts running too! Ninety pounds of running boxer on wood floors equals morning quiet time sabotage.  We have to tiptoe. Like ninjas.  Slow and steady pace.  Prancing dog follows.  Sliding door cracks open and……

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Do you ever have one of THOSE days?  Nothing seems to go the way it’s supposed to.  Hi.  That’s me.  Today.  I’ve just hopped off of my treadmill.  This fantastic invention is not my favorite place to exercise.  But, as the mother of young kids there seem to be very few opportunities to just take off galloping down the road.  So, I run indoors.  A lot.  Next to the couch.  Where today my 4 year old is laying with her favorite cup and the Netflix streaming.  Yep, I took a sick day today.  It’s a whole lot easier as a teacher to just work anyway, when it’s YOU that is sick.  You see, the day still has to run smoothly without you.  So, either you are planning for yourself… or you have to leave very precise and detailed plans for someone else.  More work.  But when it’s your kids, you wave the white flag.  I was actually supposed to go on my son’s second grade field trip today.  I had taken a personal day to chaperone.  A day off to be with school children of a different age.  Ironic, I know.  So you can imagine his disappointment when I told him I couldn’t go today.  Ugh.   Some days I need eight arms and the ability to clone myself.  Some days the music in my earbuds can’t be loud enough.  It’s what I do when I need to not think.  I need loud music and a fast pace.  Well.. fast for me.  We don’t need to get technical here.

 

It’s a good Pandora station.  They go through some of the oldie goodies.  You know the type.  Those songs that make you feel like you could Hulk smash just about anything.  It’s loud and fast and sometimes it doesn’t even sound melodic.  Tell me there are others of you that can appreciate this practice and/or music.  No?

Well, this is awkward.

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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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Every day is different. Some better than others. Some days I am Mary Poppins happy. Others – not so much. What would be a direct opposite to ‘Mary Poppins happy’, anyway? I love wordplay. It becomes an endless silent game in my head. Does that make me strange? Nevermind. Don’t answer that. Anywho, I digress. I’ve been tossing this one around for a few days. I know what you’re thinking. Uh oh, it’s had time to marinate. I find myself often wondering about everyday occurrences. Little, insignificant happenings – like rain on bonfire birthday party night. See yesterday’s post if you’re curious.

I have to purse my lips once in a while and think “Is it just me?” Do these insane little blippits of daily life JUST happen to me? Gosh, I’m so lucky! Or maybe others can relate. I’ll let you decide. I’ve outlined 5 scenarios. You can be the judge and jury when I’m finished.

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