The Movie

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It brought in over 80 million dollars this past weekend. Throngs of movie goers, 60% women under the age of 30, filled the seats. Many went to see the movie.  You know, the one with the number 50 in the title.

Not me.  Not my daughter.

A little background:  My daughter is 21, she’s been in a relationship with the same guy for many years, and she’s head-strong (and beautiful, I might add).  This past weekend, she was with a group of movie-goers and when the others went to see it, she and her date chose to see something else. She told her daddy she didn’t see it “because momma didn’t want me to”.  Proud momma moment.  (I never told her not to see it.  I just told her my opinion.)

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that I didn’t like the books. Read them because I wanted to see what the fuss was about, but wished I hadn’t because some images scar your brain for life!

Here’s the thing: I love romance novels!!  I adore love stories over and beyond anything else. My kindle is full of them, and when I write, I write about love and relationships.  To me, there’s nothing better than love healing a bruised soul or love mending a broken family.

To me…and I’m very, very aware I’m probably the only person on earth who feels this way…I couldn’t find the love in those books. Abuse, control, demeaning behavior, psychosis – found all that but not much love.

I’m 45, been married for 24.5 years, and I’ve been fortunate to experience real love. It has kindness and patience and most importantly, respect. My husband would never hit me (even if I asked him to) because he respects me. (And too, I think he knows that if he tried to do a smidgen of what that character did, I’d punch him right in the throat.)

I hear you saying ‘character’ – he’s just a fictional character. Yes, he’s just a character and I love a strong male character in the written word. Here’s my glitch. Will my children really get that these people are just characters?

So that’s what I told my girl. This movie is not real. It’s not what a real, healthy, stable marriage or a real life together is. A healthy relationship isn’t cruel and sadistic. It shouldn’t be, and this movie isn’t what young, impressionable minds should be comparing their relationships to.

Let me reiterate:  I Love Books.  Believe me, I’ll never ask anyone to put down a book, and I’m fully aware that not everybody likes the same type book. I just read this story from the perspective of a mother, a woman with a daughter, and a woman with an incredible husband.  And this woman couldn’t be more proud of her daughter right now.

Happy Valentine’s Day

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So…nothing like some brutal honesty to make you feel loved.

“Mrs. Rackley, I like that color you’ve put on your hair.”  (No hair color…just the remains of a month old color.  What he saw were the natural grays fighting for control.)

“My momma says you’re getting old.”  I had this child’s mother the very first year I taught school.  “She also says you wear too much make-up.”    Really?  Like, really?

“Do you drink Diet Sun-Drop?”  “No, just water and coffee.  I love coffee.”  They all stare until one girl says, “Mrs. Rackley, you should really learn to try more things.”

These comments are exactly how I feel half the time.  Gray, old and apparently frigid.  Dang…

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Valentine’s Day is upon us.  I’ve found that most either love it or hate it.  For me, it’s a manufactured holiday so it’s not my favorite.  I’d much rather hubby surprise me with a gift on a plain old Tuesday in March or take me out to dinner on any other day but the 14th of February.  I’m not sure if it counts if he’s forced to say it one day a year!

What about you?  Love it or hate it?  Either way…hope your day is fabulous. And I’m not saying this since it’s VD but I do love you for reading even when I haven’t been writing very much lately.  I’m not in a writing slump. It’s more like a ‘can’t fit anything else into my mind or my day’ dilemma.  And it sucks because writing fills me like nothing else really can.  The dream is still there…thanks for being part of it.

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Friday Funnies…a day late

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Laughter is the best medicine.  It can change my whole day, and for that I’m very grateful.  Here are some funny moments from Room 12.

Last week’s reading story was about animal groups – mammals, reptiles, etc.  I had some trouble with this story last year, confusion and unanswerable questions, so I thought I was better prepared this year.  Nah, I was dreaming.  The story classifies mammals as having fur, being born alive, and able to drink milk from their mothers.  The students love the story, love learning about the groups, but we’re 0 for 2 now.  You mention milk from their mothers and little brows crinkle, little eyes churn (brow crinkling can sometimes be bad, by the way).  At first, there were only a few innocent smirks but as the week progressed, one little fellow finally asked the question.  “Where…where do they drink milk from their momma?”

Me being the superb (ha, ha) teacher I am, answered, “From different places.”

This boy looks at his neighbor, even as most of the students accepted my answer as it was, and his neighbor (a sweet little girl) proceeded to point straight to her ninnies.  I heard him say oh and then the subject was dropped as quickly as I could usher them forward.  (Book people!  Think, please!  Do they really need to learn that specific thing in first grade?  Being born alive is hard enough!)

This week, we moved on to another story about space.  Great story, great pictures of the moon.  We’ve had wonderful discussions of what it would be like to be an astronaut on the moon and how much we’d like to ride around in a lunar rover.  The same little princess who informed the students at her table about ninnies and the production of milk asked, “What do people do with their phones in space?”  I replied, “They don’t take them with them.  They leave them at home.”  Her brow crinkled again and she asked, “Well then, how can people find them?”

Disclaimer:  I can be a smart-aleck from time to time.  Not often but sometimes.  You’ll be proud to know I didn’t laugh or say anything inappropriate.  I just smiled and said, “Well, hun, their family will know they’re going into space, which is a big deal, so they’ll be okay without their phone for a few days.”

I know I post these every year (sorry), but they make me smile.  Smiling, laughter = a much kinder, softer teacher.

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We can only hope we’re this cute at 100.

We made ourselves as we’ll look at 100 in recognition of the 100th day of school.  When I introduced the project, I got the brow scowl again.  A blonde angel piped in, “If we live that long.  Doubt it.”

Drowning…Or Not

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Work overwhelms me, body and soul.  Paperwork, deadlines, being stretched too thin.  All of it.  At home, brother needs his paper typed, sister is readying to head back to school, bff has ventured into a new business and needs my support and attention.  Supper must be cooked, clothes washed, a house cleaned.  Puppy has conjunctivitis and a virus.  I’m suffocating, drowning in the need to be everyone’s everything.  There’s this need to be perfect – the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect teacher, the perfect homemaker, the perfect friend, the perfect Christian.

I’m failing in most of those areas.

And then…

I remember a sign I saw at school.   Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.

I’ll never be the perfect anything, not ever.  All I can do is try…and look…and appreciate.

Work overwhelms me…but the students make me smile.  Brother wrote the best paper he’s ever written about his hero – his dad.  It made me cry…it made his daddy cry, too.  Sister is rocking on through college, making me so proud each and every day.  The bff (husband) may have finally found the perfect business for him, a place to call his own and be himself.  Food keeps us nourished.  Clean clothes keep us warm.  The house keeps us sheltered.  Puppy hasn’t puked today and looks at me as if I am an angel.  I may feel like I’m drowning but still I manage to swim and pull myself to shore.  That’s where I stand up, shake off the weight of life, and forget being perfect.  Instead, I do my very best, and to all the people who love me, that is enough.

New Year, New Goals

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A friend of mine posted, “I hope that I will be a better person in 2015 as compared to last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and…” This woman is a phenomenally funny, kind, patient, expressive and giving human being, but still she strives to improve herself each year. Her resolution isn’t just lip service…she means the words she says.

So many of us have resolutions during this time of year. Resolutions to exercise more, eat less, join a gym, run a marathon, go back to school. Every January it’s the same – what will my New Year’s resolution be? Will I even make one? Nah…it’s already the 8th. Maybe I’ll skip this year. There’s something very pressure-filled about strapping a resolution to what you hope is the beginning of a better, stronger, clearer year.

I recently read that instead of resolutions we should set goals (even though I think they’re very much the same). The goals should be steps to help you forward your life, to keep you focused on improving yourself instead of becoming stagnant. These goals keep you focused so you don’t settle into a couch potato, lazy rhythm. Goodness knows I need that! I am such a stay in my comfort zone kind of girl.

So instead of resolutions, I’m setting goals. And to be completely honest, they’re mostly the same as last year. Give, pray, write, publish, love, teach, do. I figure those goals are easily transferred from one year to the next. If only I’ll keep my thoughts on those things, maybe I’ll keep myself from completely sinking into my recliner.

What about you? Have you set any resolutions or goals?

Christmas Is…

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The day Thanksgiving was over, Christmas began…and I know you’ve all been on the same spinning whirlwind as me.  Writing has come to a complete stop because I tend to fall asleep in my chair by eight! The children at school were WILD and there were times I wondered if we’d make it through, but we did and even in the chaos of the past few weeks, Christmas found me.

It found me in the smiles of kids – in the way they can make me laugh even when I’m stressed.  We tested several days this week; a mid-year check up to see how far we’ve come and how far we have left to go (guess what…we’ve got a long way to go).  I stopped the children to stretch between a test, fingers up to the sky, lots of deep breaths, fingers to the ground.  When I looked around, one little girl had her foot up on her leg in a (yoga) tree pose.  I asked her if she did yoga at home and she said not all the time but that her favorite pose is downward facing dog.  “Mine too,” I told her, and we shared a smile that warmed my heart and stripped away the stress I’d been feeling.

Christmas found me in a story I heard about a Kindergarten fellow who put a fuzzy pom-pom up his nose and couldn’t get it out.  The teacher couldn’t get it out.  The school nurse couldn’t get it out.  Last I heard, he was making a trip to the doctor.  I couldn’t help but laugh…even though I’m sure it wasn’t funny to any of the grown-ups involved.  Me being an outsider, it sounded like a story from a book or sitcom and it was a hoot.

Christmas found me in the responses of my students when I asked them what Christmas is to them.  Christmas is…

fun, it’s my favorite holiday

Jesus’ birthday

a holiday; it’s beautiful and it snows

time for people to think about other people and not be naughty and not cry or shout or be mean

But mostly, Christmas found me yesterday on my way to school.  I looked over just as I began to pull into the parking lot, and there, greeting each car rider, was Santa Claus.  Our custodian was dressed in full regalia, saying “Ho, ho, ho” and “Merry Christmas” to each car and child.  I slipped down to the car line to take a picture and another worker told me that some of the parents that never smile, smiled today.  Later in the day, our Santa visited the children in the building and handed out a treat bag to each and every one and to each teacher.  We have 500 children in our building.  To say that the children were excited is an understatement.

Our school Santa - and he was awesome.  We love you, Santa Albert.

Our school Santa – and he was awesome. We love you, Santa Albert.

Christmas is so much more than shopping at the mall, and long lines, and traffic.  Thank goodness.  Christmas is those moments with your family, baking and watching Christmas movies (because what Christmas would be complete without watching Christmas Vacation?).  It’s about giving love, sharing yourself, doing for others.  I love that when work has me wound too tight, the important things in life can still find me.  I love that even though I get bogged down with too much, smiles and hugs and laughter are always just there if only I’ll look for them and accept them.  I love that I’m surrounded by people who go over and beyond to give to others and spread love and smiles around.

Our Christmas party yesterday was chaotic, wild, fun and loud.  On a normal day, it would have driven me a little crazy, but yesterday on the way to work, I decided to just go with it.  And I did, and we had a blast.  The children were so happy and so very thankful.  Their giddiness is infectious.

Christmas found me, and my prayer for you, is that it finds you too.

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Merry Christmas! I love each and every one of you!

 

Being Thankful

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I asked my students, with absolutely no prodding or help from me, what they’re thankful for.  I refused to give them any ideas, and they had to come up with five different things.  Their responses were timeless, innocent and pure.  They never cease to amaze me…especially when you dig down to what’s just below the surface.  Here are a few of their responses:

 My family (this was a biggy – almost every one of them wrote it)

Love

Toilet Paper

God

Jesus

My class

Grandma & Grandparents

Mesa Blocks (not sure I know what those are)

I’ll be honest here…the world seems much less scary to me when I see these responses.  Truly.  Just think…what if these babies could keep their focus just on (most of) the items listed above?  Just think where the new generation could lead this world if their hearts stayed true to family, God, and love.

With each passing day, I find I have more to be thankful for.  And it’s not just the big things.  Of course I’m thankful for my family…they are my most cherished gift, one that I cling to each and every day.  Of course I’m thankful for nourishment and shelter…I know I’m so blessed to have what some don’t and may never have.  The thing is, I find myself more thankful for the little things these days.  Things like a pain-free body when I get up in the morning, a warm, soft bed to fall into at night.  I cherish the little conveniences of life…things like coffee and central heat and air and indoor plumbing.  I cling to my books and savor each day I get to write.

I’m also thankful for the silly things…like XM radio and the classic rock stations.  I’ve discovered channel 57 (Y2K country – and all I can say is thank you for some decent country music.  It saves me from having to listen to the new, overly produced, male heavy country music of today.  Gag me.)

I’m also thankful for the encouragement I get from the readers of my blog.  Opening myself to others and admitting that I love to write was very difficult for me.  I guess I spend too much time in the worry zone.  Anyway, your sweet comments and kindness have fueled my love for writing even more and given me courage to share some of my stories.  For that, I cherish each one of you.  I truly hope you have the best Thanksgiving ever.

For me and my family, we’ll be keeping our eyes and hearts on the words above…family, love, God, and enough toilet paper for the 35 folks coming to visit on Thursday!

Movies and Books

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I finally made it to the theater to see Gone Girl and The Best of Me.  There has never been a movie I like better than the book…not Harry Potter or Gone With the Wind…not any of them.  There’s just no way to capture the essence of the written word on screen, to me anyway.  These two followed suit.  Yes, they were both good but I still liked the books better.  Gone Girl’s screenplay was written by Gillian Flynn so that helped tremendously in translating the book to screen, but the Nicholas Sparks book…well, it was as if they stripped it raw and made up their own story.  I wonder how he feels about that?  I wonder if it drives him nuts that movie executives take his carefully scripted book and change it into something that could never be as wonderful as the original story?  It would me.

I’ve been reading like a maniac lately, one book after the other through my local library’s on-line eBook resource.  I love it.  (Sidebar:  I still LOVE to hold a book rather than my I-Pad but sometimes laziness wins the battle.)  However, I’ve found myself in a reading rut…as in reading the same type book over and over.  I now know more about Scottish Lords than any female has the right to know.

So help!  What book has snagged you lately?  I need titles, please, and lots of them.  With winter making an early appearance, I need a thorough list of must reads.

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Confessional time…

I signed up for the NaNoWriMo writing challenge.  (It’s the National November Writing Month challenge where you write 50,000 words in a month.)  Well, it’s the middle of November and I’m nowhere near 25,000 words.  Why November is what I’m asking?  There’s a holiday in this month, dang it.  Let’s move it to January when there’s absolutely nothing going on.  I guess they couldn’t call it NaNo then.  Anyway, I’m trying to get more word to paper.  Wish me luck!

And remember, please let me know great books you’ve come across lately!

 

Fall is Falling

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I read a Facebook post this week that has stuck with me. A father was talking to his young children about people coming and going, about how things are constantly changing, and his extremely bright young daughter said, “Nothing gold can stay.” That insightful young girl quoted Robert Frost. She’s 10. I am so impressed by her wisdom.

Now to be honest, do you know what I think of when I hear that quote? Think back…early 80’s… Can you hear Ponyboy saying it? I can, and I still love the movie The Outsiders. What beautiful words but so much more poignant from the mouth of babes.

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So fall has finally fallen in our little niche of the world. Just today I saw fiery red leaves ablaze on a maple and warm orange leaves in a haphazard pile. Fall seems to show up so much later these days. Weary, fading greens hang on and on in Tennessee until they finally give up around the first of November. Fall seemed to show up earlier when I was younger. Maybe it was the lure of Halloween or the later starting date of school, but I seem to remember it arriving at the end of September.

To say the least, my students are literally thumping with Halloween excitement. They’re downright giddy as they count down the days until Friday. Their joy has had me reminiscing about my youth and what I loved about the holiday. For me, it was the lure of the plastic mask and matching outfit. Can you remember trying to breathe behind those things? My favorite costume was the Darth Vader costume I wore when I was 10. Yes, I loved Star Wars, but I can’t remember why I chose Darth Vader over Princess Leia. Best I recall, I never even considered being Princess Leia.  And of course the candy played a huge role in the excitement – and it was more for the smell than anything.  (Well, that and eating the candy of course.)  Have you ever sniffed a large, mixed bag of candy? Try it – it’s the smell of spooks and giggles and youth.

 What are your favorite memories of Halloween? What are your most cherished memories of fall? I hope you add to your memory stash this year. Happy Halloween!

Halloween - late 1970's My sister and I all set but could we breathe?  Doubt it!

Halloween – late 1970’s
My sister and I all set but could we breathe? Doubt it!

Did You Know…

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Did you know…I sol 100 and to cows?

Did you know…that yesterday it was hot?

Did you know…that we pet a caf?

Did you know…it was October today?

Did you know…I saw cows?  Yesterday was Wednesday.

Did you know…that milk makes chees and yogert?

Did you know…I like the cows.  They give us milk.

Did you know…cows are big when they are two?

Did you know…the sun is hoter then the water?

Did you know…if you swollo lava you can diy!

I gave the Did You Know slips to my students this morning and told them to write something they learned or read about or experienced this week.  We had a field trip yesterday and I assumed most of the comments would be on dairy cows.  Some most definitely were not!  I left their inventive spelling intact.

Field trip on a beautiful fall day.

Field trip on a beautiful fall day.  That nice, shell-shocked man is holding a calf.

 

Here’s my momma/teacher did you know for the week:

Did you know…that working full time and trying to be a mother (effectively) at the same time can make a grown woman crawl?  My grown babies have needed me for a deeply bruised ankle last week and emergency wisdom teeth removal this week.  Work and boo-boo’s don’t mix.

Did you know…that taking off work turns into punishment the day you go back?  One day missed equals double the work, double the angst.

Did you know…if fall break wasn’t next week, this grown woman might cry?

Did you know…when I left my class at lunch today to come home and take care of my daughter (after missing yesterday and half of Tuesday), my babies hugged me tight and asked, “Will we get back to normal tomorrow?”  And one little boy chimed in as they walked away to lunch, “Us will be good!”

Did you know…I just love children.