Trust

Recent events have given me reason to contemplate the importance of trust. Whether it’s the trust between friends,
the trust among colleagues,
or perhaps the trust between a girl and her horse…
without trust the relationship is damaged, often broken beyond repair.
Why is it that we all too often fail to take care of that one element on which all healthy interactions are based?

We are so quick to throw others under the bus in order to save our own skin. In this world of Common Core, high-stakes testing, and SLO’s, trust is apparently dead. Whatever happened to good old fashioned camaraderie? I wish I had an answer, but sadly, I don’t. Every day I see more and more of the disease that is eating away at the core of my workplace and I’m certain that mine is not the only district afflicted. What can we, the minions on the front lines, due to curb the damage done by those who seek to impose ridiculous standards on the youngest and most vulnerable citizens?

This photo is of my daughter Jillian and her horse, Jett. Between them exists an amazing amount of mutual trust. She trusts him to take care of her while she’s in the saddle, and he trusts her to do the same for him. Through this trust they learn from each other and together build a solid foundation on which to move forward.

Is there a reason the government can’t trust me to teach the students with whom I’m entrusted? As a reading teacher, my job is to help fill some of the gaps that weaken the foundation my students have built. More high-stakes testing and bullying by state mandates will only serve to create foundations that resemble Swiss cheese. I suppose I should be grateful. In essence the state is creating better job security for intervention teachers like me, since the students will be forced to suffer through unproven, unreliable, and unachievable standards. There has to be something we can do to bail ourselves out of this mess. The relatively meager State and Federal funding available is not worth selling out the establishment of public education.

We need to re-infuse our education system with the trust that is necessary to create lifelong learners, not life long test takers.

Trust

The Best Daughter in the World

Yes, that’s right. I do have the best daughter in the world. (Argue all you want, to me she’ll always be number one.)  🙂

I often find myself bemoaning the fact that Jillian struggles with so many aspects of life. Be it academia or the world of sports, it constantly seems to be a struggle. But, as I realized today (and not for the first time), WHO CARES?!? She is, without a doubt, one of the most caring, agreeable 10-year-olds you’ll ever meet.

Today I listened as she had a phone conversation with one of her friends. (Who shall remain nameless in the interest of protecting the innocent… or, not so innocent. Whichever the case may be.) Jillian has a generally rather annoying habit of having full phone conversations on speakerphone. I’m not sure if the other party realizes this, but regardless, today it worked in my favor.

I listened as this “friend” griped on and on about how unfair it was that she couldn’t come to swim with Jillian. On and on went the friend, accusing us of denying her the privilege simply because we didn’t want them around, instead of acknowledging the actual fact that the large un-heated, in-ground pool was, quite frankly, too cold to make for an enjoyable day at the pool. We had, after all, just emerged from a snap of Fall-like weather.

As I listened I became more and more aware of the fact that Jillian was saying nothing. She didn’t agree with her friend. We had talked about the temperature of the water, and Jillian was well aware of the chilliness that comes with too cool pool water. Blue lips and shivers are fun for no one, unless maybe you’re a member of your local polar bear club. We, however, are not.

I digress… I couldn’t take it anymore. I walked over to the phone and said simply that the pool was too cold. Jillian’s friend retorted petulantly, “But my pool isn’t too cold. You just don’t want us there!”

This is where I must note, that this friend’s pool is the above ground 4-foot deep variety, which tends to warm very quickly in the late summer sunshine, unlike the large 8 foot deep pool in question. I did my best to explain this, but again was met with nothing short of nastiness and disrespect. I then was promptly hung up on by Jillian’s 10-year-old friend.

It was after this exchange that I realized how truly lucky I am to be blessed with such a special little girl. Instead of being angry with me (which I must admit, probably would have been my choice at that age) she said she understood and that it wasn’t very nice of her to act that way at all.

Wow… that was a moment.

I think our children often teach us more than we ever teach them. This was one of those moments. My daughter showed me that she’s more mature than I give her credit for most of the time. Even though this friend may not be the best influence, I can trust that Jillian will hold her own and not get dragged down into the spiral of disrespect.

I always suspected, but now I know, she’s truly the best daughter ever!

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Geneology and Crazy Dreams

Well, I think we’ve established that I’ve got some work to do when it comes to frequent blogging. But, the past it the past, so let’s move on!

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Several weeks ago I bought a Groupon that gave me a good deal on one of Ancestry.com’s new DNA tests. I spit into the tube and sent it in figuring I’d get a report back filled with a mish-mash of various cultures. That’s what we Americans are, right? We’re the 15 bean soup of the cultural world, filled with a little bit of every kind of bean. I was pleasantly astonished when the results came back: 87% British Isles, 13% Scandinavian

So that makes my long lost relatives Vikings that emigrated to Ireland and/or Scotland, right?

It’s funny. I’ve always had a rather obsessive fascination with all things Irish. In college I took Irish-Gaelic language classes and Irish dancing lessons. I have an enormous collection of Irish music CD’s and take unbelievable pride in celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Perhaps our roots do influence the person we become. It’s an interesting idea anyway.

I had the opportunity in 2010 to travel to Ireland with my mother and will forever be grateful for that chance. We had a lovely time and I left hoping I’d be able to return someday. This summer will mark my “someday” as I travel back across the Atlantic for my writing residency. This time, however, I’ve talked Doug and Jillian into joining me and I can’t wait to show them around the place I can’t seem to get enough of.

A couple nights ago I found myself searching the internet. That, like most people today, is not all that unusual for me. But the subject of my search was a bit off. I was searching homes for sale. After a steady diet of home renovation and house hunting episodes, I suppose it wasn’t too far fetched, except that I was searching for homes in Ireland. Yes, you read right… Ireland. Now, let me just clarify something here. There is no way in the world that I would be able to financially afford a new house right now, either in the US or across the pond. I figure we are so far upside down in our current home that I’ll be living here when I’m 93 still paying a ridiculous mortgage on a home not worth what we paid for it. But I digress. We can dream, can’t we?

I have visions of living in a little cottage just on the outskirts of a small Irish town like Kenmare. The southwest part of Ireland just feels like home. I wonder if they need any reading specialist/writers and tool and die project engineers in that part of the world? Alas, I will probably never know. Although I have told Doug in no uncertain terms that if we ever win the lottery (which we rarely play) then I am buying a home in Ireland. He thinks I’m a bit crazy, but perhaps our adventure across the pond this summer will give him just the perspective he needs to lend my dream a bit of credence.

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Blog-o-Rama, Day 19: My Favorite View(s)


I’d like to share my Snapfish photos with you. Once you have checked out my photos you can order prints and upload your own photos to share.
Click here to view photos

Okay, so I’ve been working on this all afternoon and still haven’t perfected it, but… these pictures are representations for my Day 19 prompt: My favorite view. I couldn’t pick just one, and frankly the ones I really wanted I couldn’t figure out how to embed, so here we are. I obviously have some learning to do, but I hope you enjoy some of my favorite Irish views!

Blog-o-Rama, Day 18: Want

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I felt myself becoming one of those moms today. You know the ones, the moms who nag at their children at sporting events as the child puts forth as much effort as she can muster. Yeah. That was me today at Jillian’s swim lesson. And I’m far from proud of my behavior.

Okay, so what does this have to do with today’s prompt? You see, my biggest want is for Jillian to be able to experience success… at something… anything. Jillian has struggled and been behind her peers in virtually every area of life. School is difficult for her, although she’s made huge strides in the past couple years, we still have a long way to go. She was never quite coordinated enough for cheerleading or gymnastics or dance. Horseback riding lessons went well, but there’s a fear factor there that I’m not sure we’ll be able to conquer. Last year she was going to show a rabbit in 4H. We practiced and practiced the information she had to memorize for the interview portion of her grade, needless to say, she ended up not showing the rabbit.

Right now, Jillian loves to swim. This is the same girl who screamed bloody murder when I took her to her first Mommy and me swim lesson when she was about two years old. I never thought I’d be sitting the sidelines at swim lessons, gearing up for her second season of swim team.

Which brings me to today’s breech of etiquette. Jillian was definitely off her game today. Her strokes were short and choppy, her rotational breathing was non-existent, and she was having serious trouble following simple directions from her instructor. Now, Jillian always struggles with directions. They have to be repeated several times and even then she sometimes gets them wrong, but today was different. Today I watched the other kids in her lesson group show her up time and time again on skill after skill.

Swim is her thing!

I just couldn’t take it.

So, is it too much to ask that my child be successful at something? I want her to be able to feel the pride that accompanies a job well done. The excitement at earning a ribbon or hearing praise from others for something you’ve done is a precious gift that I want her to experience. But beyond that, I want her to know she’s perfect, no matter what challenges await her. I want her to believe in herself.

Is that too much to ask?

Blog-o-Rama Day… uh… 16: Mailbox

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Well, for those of you who’ve been keeping tabs (although bittersweet, I don’t think there are that many of you) I’ve missed a few days. I could go on about why I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties, but the mundane drivel of my everyday existence may bore you to tears. Regardless, today’s prompt was, “mailbox”.

As if the universe knew I needed some inspiration for this post in order to set me back on track, I opened my mailbox to find two very exciting packages. The packages were identical with the exception of their addressees. One was addressed to Doug, and the other to Jillian. Inside were my beloved family members’ brand new passports. Eek!

Okay, that may not seem very exciting, but I am very much looking forward to our travel plans this summer. I will be traveling to Ireland for the Spalding University Low-Residency MFA program and Doug and Jillian will be joining me after my classes are finished. Neither of them have ever been overseas, and I can’t wait to show them one of my favorite places in the world… The Emerald Isle. Talking Doug into this trip wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, and he’s still not crazy about staying as long as we are, but I am confident that once he is there he will be very happy he decided to go.

So, in the mailbox today was the first stepping stone along the path that will lead (push) my “happy to go to Gatlinburg every summer” hubby across the pond (no disrespect toward Gatlinburg intended, I do love the Smokies). Now I just have to hope he falls in love with the country as easily as I have.

I mean, come on, who couldn’t love this:

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Slàinte, my friends!

Blog-o-Rama Days 11 & 12: Smile & A Mother

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I decided to combine these two prompts because they seem to go hand in hand. My mother has rejoiced in my happiness and helped wipe away my tears, making her inextricably linked to my smiles, and since today is Mother’s Day, it seemed like a perfect fit.

I chose this picture because it captured a wonderful moment in time this afternoon. We had lunch at The Claddagh Irish Pub where they were having a special Mother’s Day buffet. It was delicious and spending the afternoon with my family was a wonderful bonus.

Happy Mother’s Day to all those hard working moms out there. I hope you have had a day full of love and appreciation that will carry you through until next Mother’s Day! 😉

Until next time!

Blog-o-Rama Day 10: Stars

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From the time I can remember I wanted to be an actress. I yearned to walk the red carpet, to have strangers ask for my autograph, and most of all to have the opportunity to pretend to be someone else. So, for today’s prompt, stars, I decided to blog about this long dreamed aspiration of mine.

I had my shot at the acting life. It may have been brief, but I took it and in hindsight gave up too quickly. However, I’ve come to realize in life that everything happens for a reason. The good and the bad both have a place in this journey we call life. My journey was meant to include tiny stints in Los Angeles, studying theatre at USC and later as an extra in American Pie. Both of those experiences help create the woman I am today.

Now, I have realized that acting is not the only profession that will provide me the outcome of living other people’s lives. As I was writing my novel I realized that creating these characters on the page is as satisfying (if not more so) as acting. In fact, as an author I have full authority over what happens to my characters. I’m not bound by someone else’s script or dialogue.

Wow! What a revelation!

The lesson to take away from this is that even if the life you thought you had planned for yourself doesn’t work out, another path is waiting for you. And that path may be more incredible than you ever thought possible. Stars will align. Maybe not in the formation you originally intended, but they will align just the same.

Happy writing, my friends!

Blog-o-Rama, Days 8 & 9: Shapes and A Snack

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I’m killing two birds with one stone today. I neglected my blogging duties yesterday in order to attend to my teaching duties at last night’s Make It, Take It opportunity for our school’s second graders. But I am back at it tonight and rolling two prompts into one for your reading pleasure. 🙂

Yesterday’s prompt was shapes, so the snack I chose for today’s prompt is filled with lovely little squares. I always loved squares (I really am kidding) and candy is one of the best places to find them (true, but weird). These chocolatey delicious squares belong to an Anthony-Thomas Crispy Crunch fundraising bar. I think just about every student I have is selling these for some club or sport right now. This one came from one of my dear friends, and fellow teacher, who keeps her daughter’s stash in her classroom. Much too handy for me to pass up. Thank goodness she’s almost out!

Until tomorrow, my friends.