Thursday, September 11, 2014

What 9.11 Took from our Children--One Mom's Reflection


I didn't know anyone. Not one single person who died on 9.11.01.

Todd Beamer was a friend of several people I know, but I had never met him. I don't think I even know anyone who lost a loved one on 9.11.

I've written about 9.11 before; I probably write about it every year. It is one day that really gets to me in a very personal way.

Today I keep wondering why I feel such strong emotions every year on this date. Why, if I didn't know a single person who lost their life, do I feel shaky when I watch the scenes from that day replayed on the news? Why do I remember almost every vivid detail from the hour or two after I got the phone call from my husband saying, "Turn on the news." Why do I remember ringing my best friend's doorbell and falling apart crying the minute I saw her?

Why is this such a big deal to me? Me, who wasn't even directly affected?

You know, I think that's the answer. I was directly affected. We all were. I am an American, and even though I didn't personally know anyone who died that day, I think a part of who we all are as Americans was taken from us. Our culture. Our identity. Part of that died that day, and as I wrote to my girls that evening, I knew that nothing would ever be the same again.

I also knew that the world my children would grow up in would not be the carefree, naive world I knew as a child.

My children will know carefree days, yes, but always with the backdrop of another 9.11 and the knowledge that this could happen again at any time.

They will never know meeting their family at the airline gate with hugs and kisses after a long trip. They will never know the freedom of entering a building, particularly a government building, without some sense of suspicion--x-ray machines and all that. They will never know a world in which we don't look at each other just a little more closely because of the way we look or the way we are dressed.

They will never know.

What they will know is heightened security, fear, and threats to our limited way of life. And this makes me sad.

It's the new normal, I get that. I'm not naive enough to think things could ever go back. But what I thought about today as I wondered why this day affects me so much is the reality of life as my children will see it.

They've been robbed of so much.

And it affects me deeply.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Meme

I can't let this Labor Day pass by without a throwback to the good old days of blogging.  My friend, Jo-Lynne, ran a post this week that she published way back in 2008--the year I started blogging (I can't even believe that as I type it). Back in 2008 we bloggers spent a lot of time actually reading each others blogs and, even better, we COMMENTED on each others blogs.

Imagine!

And back in 2008 we participated in all sorts of blog parties and memes.

Like this one.

So, in honor of Labor Day, I thought I'd share my own Labor Day meme. (Thanks, Jo-Lynne, for the idea!). Feel free to answer these questions for yourself in the COMMENTS section. (There really is such a thing. It's down below, and I'd love it if you'd use it!)

How long were your labors?

K - about 12 hours.

C - 4 hours from start to finish.

J - 30 hours. We're all thankful that we both survived the ordeal.

How did you know you were in labor?

K - my water broke in the middle of the night.

C - the doctor stripped my membranes in his office, telling me at the time that there were no guarantees that this would start labor. By the time I got home, I was in hard labor. I called B at work and we were off to the races. Literally.

J - Labor pains. Sort of. And then petocin. Ugh.

Where did you deliver?

All three were born at the same hospital, which is less than 10 minutes from our home. And get this--they were all born on a Tuesday. Weird, huh?

Drugs?

Absolutely!

C-section?

Nope.

Who delivered?

K - The "cute young doctor" in the practice whom I had put off seeing because what are the chances that he'll do my delivery? I was scheduled to see him the next week, but Kate decided she'd like to enter this world three weeks early. And guess who was on call! (I'll never forget his beautiful blue eyes looking up at me over the sheet.)

C - "Cute young doctor"'s father. Really.

J - Our dear family practice doc. By this time I had switched practices and had our family doc deliver. I'm so glad he did because he saved her life.

So now it's your turn. I'd love to know how YOU'D answer these questions. You can do so in the COMMENTS. Please?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

One Simple Way to Really Enjoy the Last Few Days of Summer

I did something today that I hardly ever do.

I ate lunch.

What I mean is, I actually sat down and deliberately enjoyed my lunch.



I’m sure you know what I mean. Most days I rush around—you know you do it too—running errands, cleaning up messes, throwing in loads of laundry, doing those usual tasks that consume my days so that I don’t usually take time to sit down and properly eat lunch.

It’s kind of crazy, really. The French seem to have figured out how to do lunch very well—fresh cheese on a warm baguette or a slice of quiche with salad. Oh my! Even the British have figured out that some warm form of meat and potatoes wrapped in pastry constitutes a suitable lunch, even if held in one’s hand and eaten on the run.




But we Americans rarely take the time. We’re too busy.

Most days I’ll grab a piece of fruit and very possibly a cookie while rushing around my house. Sometimes I’ll eat it in the car on my way to the cleaners or to the grocery store where I’ll get more food that will not be lunch. The closest thing to a “hot lunch” that I ever get is cheese and crackers warmed in the microwave.

When I’m at work, I do try to grab a salad in the dining hall, but I’ll always eat it at my desk.

Today, though. Oh, today is beautiful. Today is warmish-late-August-just-verging-on-cooler-less-humid-September, and it’s oh-so-sweet.

So after I worked in the library for a bit this morning, I decided that I’d treat myself to lunch at my favorite little cafĂ©, but rather than eat there (I despise eating alone in a restaurant) I would take my lunch to a park.

I sat under a perfectly blue sky and read an article next to a peacefully trickling fountain.

I listened to cicadas singing and the rhythmic squeek-squeek-squeek of a swing at a nearby school.

I fully tasted the sweet dates in my quinoa salad (sublime) and the tangy tomato chutney on my grilled cheese sandwich.

I watched a young couple holding hands as they walked side by side.

And I embraced thirty minutes of peace in the middle of my day.


Before I know it the weather will turn colder and my days will be busy and I’ll forget to each lunch again, but for now, it’s almost September and these days aren’t meant to be hurried.

September days are meant for lunch.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

First Day

Today is my first day of school. I've had LOTS of first days of school over the years, and I have to say that I always love the first day. There's something so magical about it--the new students (or new teachers), the new assignments, the smell of new pencils.

All of it pretty much makes me smile.


Today in my classes I will give my students a little first day presentation. It's meant in fun, but there are some things I'd like them to know about our class.

My presentation actually ran as a blog post here a couple of years ago, so, in honor of Day One, I thought I'd run it again. I hope you enjoy your day as much as I surely will!

*****


Top 10 Words of Warning Advice I may or may not tell my students on the first day of class




School starts for me next week, and believe it or not, I’m strangely excited about it. I have always, always, even when I was in middle school, loved the first day of school. What happens after the first day may be another story, but there has always been something magical about the first day for me.

That’s probably why I’m a teacher today. It's all about the first day.


So as I’ve been working on my syllabus for this semester, working through new textbooks and thinking about my past classes, I thought of some things my students might want to know ahead of time. These pieces of advice come from 21 years of teaching experience. Boy, could I tell stories!

Oh, I guess I have.

Now, understand, I hope and pray that none of my students EVER find my blog (ha!), but just in case you know a college student who would benefit from these words of advice, feel free to share.

1. I am not your mother. I do not want to know that you stayed up until 3:30 in the morning and couldn’t get out of bed for class. I will not call you to make sure you get up. I will not text you to see where you were. Just come to class. On time.

2. I like paper. Call me a murderer of trees, but I like to read your paper on, well, paper. I like to scribble and make squiggly lines on your paper. I like to write long notes at the end of your work—I think this is one of the best ways you learn how to get better at your craft. I don’t want you to send me your paper via email (although lots of great professors do), and I certainly don’t want you to hand me a disk that I’ll have to put in my own computer and which could possibly give my computer a virus of some sort. Nope. Just gimme the paper.

3. Your phone is not invited to class. If something is more important than my class, go handle it outside of class. Take an absence if you want, but just don’t bring it into my sanctuary.

4. And speaking of absences . . . yes, they do exist in college. I may not look like I’m taking attendance in front of the class, but I’m doing it in my mind. And, yes, your presence in our class matters—to me and to your classmates.

5. Sniffing. I hate sniffing. Get a tissue.

6. I’m not blind—I see stuff. I see your phone under the desk (put it away!). I see you doing homework for another class (it’s pretty obvious when you should be taking notes and when you don’t need to be writing anything). I see that smug look on your face that says, “I could be teaching this class right now.” That’s the one I really wish I could remove from the classroom.

7. I’m not as self-assured as I might seem. When you give me that smug face, it actually does hurt a little bit, even though I don’t want to give you the benefit of thinking so. Remember that your professor is a human being and treat me as such.

8. Which reminds me to tell you that I have a life outside of this classroom. Last night I probably ran my daughter to piano lessons, made dinner, vacuumed the living room, worked on a writing project, cleaned up dog puke, and graded papers until my head felt like it was going to explode. My life gets to me sometimes just like school gets to you. Grace, please.

9. You are not God’s gift to the English language. (And neither am I.) You are in my class because you have at least one thing to learn, so figure out what that is, practice it like crazy, and feel like you’ve accomplished something by the end of the semester. A big head about your abilities will get you exactly . . . nowhere.

10. I like you. I have no preconceived ideas about you based on where you’re from, what positions you take, or especially (goodness no!) how well you write. I come into the semester thinking that we’re going to have fun in class and that I’m going to learn something from you. I assume that you are a decent, interesting, likeable human being. Try not to prove me wrong.

So here we go. The semester is here. It’s going to be crazy-busy, a writing whirlwind—a typing typhoon if you will. You’ll want to shoot me at times, and you’ll probably want to cuss me out at other times. But hopefully, in the end, you’ll see that I cared about you and wanted to help you learn something.

Let’s get to work!

How about you? What words of advice would YOU give my students? Did you like the first day of school?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Good Reads

I haven't done this in a while, but I've read some great stuff lately that I thought you might like. What have been some of your favorite posts?

A Love Letter to All the Daughters Everywhere :: by Jennifer Dukes Lee (guest posting on Lisa Jo Baker)

Before They Go to School . . . Have This Conversation :: Lysa TerKeurst

Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed :: Thomas Umstaddt, Jr.

Your Wedding is Still Something Worth Wanting :: Desiring God blog

Dear Single Dudes: It's Time to Man Up :: Matt Walsh (I am pretty sure that not one single dude is reading my blog, but just in case you know one, you might want to share this with him.)

A Bit of Instruction on How to Live a Good Life :: Ann Voskamp (I put this here as a reminder to myself: Pay attention!!!)

Enjoy your Sunday!