Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Reaching. Pretty Sure That's What I'm Supposed to be Doing.

I've recently seen three movies that affected me, in different yet similar ways. (Caution - possible movie spoilers ahead...)

1. TAKEN. A drama / suspense about a CIA-type man whose daughter is abducted in France and sold into the sex-slavery business, and his journey to rescue her. While CIA-type thrillers have always been high on my list, this one moved me on another level. I've been aware of this type of "underground" that goes on around the world, but I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since watching this movie. Maybe it's because I have a daughter who's about to embark on her first European trip without Daddy. Maybe it's because she's about to be "on her own" without an awful lot of street-smarts. Maybe it's something much greater than both of those.

2. SEVEN POUNDS. With the exception of Men In Black, I love me some Will Smith. I will still watch Fresh Prince on Nick-at-Nite when Clint's not at home. This movie did not disappoint me. While it was a little dark and slightly confusing at first, I couldn't leave it. It was about a man who made a tragic choice that killed seven people, who then spent the rest of his days trying to make it up to seven more. While I don't agree with his philosophy of trying to "buy his own forgiveness," his desire to completely change the lives of complete strangers tugged at my heart. He was willing to do this, no matter the cost to himself. He looked for opportunities to do this. He didn't wait for them to knock on his door. This movie hasn't left my mind since I watched it.

3. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. A must-see. Creative, entertaining, yet enlightening and heart-breaking all at the same time. A story-teller-type tale of a boy who grew up in the slums of India. Completely captured my heart. Maybe because I'm going to Peru in about 5 weeks, and I've seen pictures of homes and children there which looked like the homes and children depicted in this movie, and maybe it's knowing that I'm going to experience that lifestyle first-hand, even if only for a couple of days. Maybe it's because the resourcefulness of the adorable-yet conniving little boy achingly reminded me of one of my own.

Over coffee last week with two of my favorite friends, I was introduced to a benefit that's going to take place this weekend. It's called Reach2Rescue. From what I can put together, it's sponsored (at least in part) by a young man in town who I know of, but do not know personally. To make a long story short, there are several bands putting on a concert with proceeds going towards rescuing boys and girls who are sex slaves in Nepal. A statistic on the website stated that in Nepal, "Girls between the ages of 8 and 16 are in the highest demand." I have a daughter who fits smack in the middle of that. So do her cousins. So do the girls on her soccer team. So do the girls I teach. So do the girls who live in our "neighborhood". That churns my stomach and takes my breath away. So I'm going. I've never heard any of the bands who will be playing. I may not like their music. But I'm going. And I'm taking at least one daughter with me. And I can't wait.

This week, another friend's FB status said that she had spent the day volunteering at the Food Bank - "boxed enough food to feed 800 families!" She has 6 children (all home on spring break this week) and a husband who is going to be without a job in just a few weeks. But this is how she chose to spend her time. Reaching.

Lately I've felt more than a little disconnected. Some days I often don't feel like I reach my students. Many days, I feel like I'm not reaching my daughters. Sometimes, my husband even feels out of reach. But I don't think that these various recent events in my life are disconnected. I think they sat themselves on my doorstep and invited themselves to stay. So what am I going to do about it? This week, I'm going to reach. I'm going to be at the concert on Friday night, helping to reach children in Nepal. As soon as I type this, I'm going to contact the Food Bank and see how I can be of help to reach people right here where I live. And in five weeks, I'm going to be reaching out to the Quechua people of Peru. Reaching. Being the hands of Jesus. Pretty sure that's what I'm supposed to be doing right now. LML.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Superbowl Entertainment

Yes, I watched SuperBowl XLIII (that's 43...I've been teaching Roman numerals in math this week). I typically will watch the SuperBowl just because it's the SuperBowl and everybody will be talking about it in the days that follow. It was just us girls at home tonight, plus #1's friend "A". Shortly after the game started, I realized that #1 and her BF had made a little wager on the outcome. If the Steelers won, he had to take her on a shopping trip; if the Cardinals won, she had to take him out to dinner. Now, #1 can almost always be found at a home SCA football game, but can almost never tell you anything except the final score. She's like her mama...she's there to people-watch. Tonight, however, was a different story. She asked question after question - what does that mean? what should they do now? what is his position? how many points is that worth? - in between her texting and Facebook updates. Over the years, I've learned a few things about football, but A knows the game well. She very patiently answered all of #1's questions. In the last half of the game, both girls were alternately cheering and groaning, much to #2's chagrin (9:00 bedtime). When Arizona scored that touchdown in the last quarter, #1 screamed and jumped off the couch. She then went to sit right next to A, clutching her arm. Oh, and she refused to check her phone, knowing the BF was sending an in-your-face text. You wouldn't believe how those two girls cheered when the Steelers pulled it off. Personally, I think that she should make the BF buy her a Steelers jersey when he takes her shopping. You know, add a lil' insult to injury. :)
Oh. I know you're wondering. My favorite commercial was the one with Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head driving in the car. I've already told #2 to take off her angry eyes.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

She Did It

She's been thinking about it since way back in 2007. Yesterday, she finally gave in and did it. Here's the result.

It's not exactly what I had in mind, and it's a good bit shorter than I think either one of us were thinking, but she seems to be in love with it. And that makes it all good with me.

Friday, January 2, 2009


Can anybody out there tell me how this ended up here:
My recent blog post was published, without any notification to me or permission from me, in the current publication of this paper. CAN THEY DO THAT???? Can they just copy and paste my words and sell them for profit like that? When I did research papers with my 5th graders last year, we talked about this little thing called plaguerism. I even taught them how to cite the websites they used to gather their information. Surely I have some friends - English teachers, photographers, college students, graphic design artists - who can offer me some insight here. In the meantime...


Tuesday, December 30, 2008


It's a bit of an awkward age. One day you're watching Nickelodeon and playing Littlest Pet Shop. The next day, you're trying to straighten your own hair. It's the age where you transition from being the big kids at the elementary school to being the little kids ("awww...look how cute they are..." say the 7th graders) in middle school. It's the age where there are more non-toys on your Christmas list than there are toys, but it's still the toys that really excite you. It's the age where you need braces and deoderant.

When you get a group of 11-year old girls together, you get a lot of noise - shrill voices, raucous laughter, singing that sounds more like shouting. When you get a group of 11-year old girls together, you hear a lot of talk about boys, always including words like "ugly, disgusting, stupid, annoying" following by hushed whispers and quiet giggles.

Today, #2 turned 11. When it was time to get dressed, she asked what shoes would match her new top best and asked me to straighten her hair in the back where she couldn't reach. Her first "gift" of the day was getting a pedicure with a BFF. They talked and laughed the entire time the nail techs were painting polka dots on their toes. Tonight, I took her and four friends for pizza and a movie. I let the girls have their own table at the restaurant, watched them order their own food and serve themselves. I sat behind them at the movies, watching them whisper to each other about funny parts and squirm during the parts that made us all cry.

This side of eleven is one that I love. Yes, they're awkward and loud. But when a familiar song came on the radio and all five of them were singing at the top of their lungs, I honestly wanted to keep on driving rather than turn in the driveway. When they were playing tag inside the house, I just waited out the squeals and tried to stay out of the way of 10 running and sliding feet. Eleven-year-old girls love life. They're not yet consumed by clothes or hair or make-up, they're not yet obsessed with thoughts of which boys are hot, they're not disrespectful or know-it-alls. They still like me, each other, and themselves. They're just trying to squeeze in as much fun - playing with dolls, jumping on the trampoline, shrieking with laughter - as they can. I almost think they're aware of what's coming. I know I am. And it's not all that fun from a mom's perspective. So for now, I'm enjoying this side of eleven.

It's going to be a long night. Those four friends are spending the night. Right now, it's 11:30 and they're getting set up for Guitar Hero. They'll be up and down the stairs a dozen times after midnight. They'll burst out in a fresh round of laughter just when I think they've finally gone to sleep. They probably won't go to sleep until 3 or 4 a.m. But it's all good. They're just eleven.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas '08 Highlights

(In no particular order...)
  • Clint's Christmas gift to me was closing in a small area of our back porch to make a new room on the house - looks great, hubby!
  • We got to see #2 perform in her last school Christmas musical - she was a swooning cheerleader!
  • Hosted a Christmas party for #1 and the basketball girls - lots of pizza, gag gifts, giggles, and Guitar Hero
  • Tortured the girls by making them hunt for their gifts on Christmas morning
  • Got to play with the cousins at Penny's house on Christmas Eve - we were amazed at B's vocabulary and outgoing personality, and G-man may very well be the cutest baby around
  • Had our last Christmas Eve at Nanny's house - while she is already missed, it was precious to have one more Christmas in her home
  • Played games with the girls and the grands on Christmas Day - Harry Potter Clue and Littlest Pet Shop Monopoly
  • Took #2 and K ice skating at Chehaw - I love to see the laughter when ten-year-old girls are having fun together!!
  • Successfully watched Bedtime Stories - third time's the charm!
  • Gave donations as gifts to many family members and friends - Bibles for the Quechua people of Peru
  • Saw the house in Callaway Lakes with the dancing lights - and the woman who brought her own chair and toddy to watch :)
  • #1 organized a Christmas dinner/gift exchange with 10 of her closest friends
  • Had new PJs for Christmas Eve
All in all, it was a wonderful Christmas... and it's not over yet! :-)
Hope yours was great too!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Lesson Learned

For several weeks now, I had been excited about what I had hoped would become a new Christmas family tradition. Having seen the previews for Disney's new movie Bedtime Stories, I had planned for all of us to go to the movie Christmas night. After several hectic days of cooking, eating, wrapping, opening, smiling for pictures, taking pictures, visiting with family, going to the next house...I thought this would be a calm way to end the day. I was excited. I LOVE to go to the movies, and we very rarely go as a family anymore.
We tried to go for the 8:00 show. Sold out. This should have been my first clue, but we went ahead and bought tickets for the 9:30 show. #2 was pumped about getting to go a "late movie" - that would be a first for her! So we returned to the theater an hour and a half later with tickets in hand. (Picture me at this point rubbing my palms together in glee.) Armed with a large Coke and a box of chocolate-covered raisins, we headed into our theater. This should have been my second clue. The noise level was such that I was afraid we might not be able to find four seats together, but when we rounded the corner, the theater wasn't even half full. We settled into our seats about four rows from the top (just where I like to sit), but noticed quickly that most people weren't settling anywhere. Large groups of teenagers would sit down in one area, only to get up a few minutes later and move to another one, all the while yelling at friends on the opposite side. I'm reminding my girls not to put their feet on the seats in front of them, and the kids around us are cussing & yelling. My girls are rolling their eyes at me, while I'm saying a prayer of thanks for private schools. Surely it would get better once the movie started, right?!? About halfway through the previews, the manager came in with a sheriff's deputy and about six employees. He gave a speech about theater etiquette, while the dudes in burgundy vests checked ticket stubs. No problem. Daughter #1 said they did the same exact thing when she went to see Twilight last month. The movie begins. Granted, the volume was too low, even for a calm theater, but with the noise all around us, you couldn't hear a thing. We were surrounded by the most obnoxious, inconsiderate, rude, unruly, disrespectful, and selfish group of teenagers I have ever been around in my life. The sheriff's deputy came back in, either yelling at people to put their cell phones away, or asking them to leave. Burgundy-vest-dudes tried to keep the theater quiet, but the "patrons" only argued with them. About fifteen minutes into the picture, when another sheriff's deputy came in, surely to eject them, we knew it was time to leave. (Picture me now with steam coming out of my ears.) The manager, bless his heart, was happy to refund the money for both our tickets and concessions. Honestly, I feel bad for him and his staff. They were fighting a losing battle. I think every family in that theater left. I can't tell you a single thing about the fifteen minutes of the movie that I sat through.

We had a wonderful Christmas Day with family. Happy Christmas post to come tomorrow, after I go see my movie. :-)