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13 Apr
I find myself thinking about home.  Where is home? What makes a home?  Defining home. I have decided the old cliche is true.  Home is indeed where your heart is.
Last night we went to a tiny UCC church for a concert for the annual Lakeland College Choir tour, which now includes the band.   And it was like being home again. Seeing all of the kids (and WOW do they look young…maybe I am just old) running around before the concert.  A couple playing on the piano before the concert.  We have all been there.  Four years of choir tours. Blizzards, bad lasagna, making the Mitchell Park Domes come alive with sound with an impromptu concert, crossing the border before passports were needed,building lifelong friendships, staying up so late watching the sunrise just to sing early in the morning and of course – choir tour romances.
Ahhh, I had one of those.  A choir tour romance.  It seems there was one every year.

Mine was with a quiet guy.  Butterfly city – I never got butterflies.  I had tried to start something with him earlier in the fall, but he had his eyes set on another girl.  One we’ll call “Fish Head” (story for another day). So he blew me off.  Then on this choir tour, it seemed like every time we got on the bus, the only seat open for me was next to him.  Now, I was not looking for romance.  I had just started seeing a guy back on campus.  By seeing, I mean watching hockey in his room.  It was a young relationship, if you could call it that after a week or so.  On tour, I just kept getting “stuck” with this Mr. Nice Guy.  
We started hanging out.  Everyone started to notice.  My own friends warned me that this guy was nice, too nice for me.  I wasn’t ready to settle down, they all told me.  I believe there was a “wild mustang” metaphor thrown in there.  So, I tried to cool things off with Mr. Nice Guy, but somehow we kept getting put together.
Ahh, the memories. I’ll have to dig out the pictures and scan them.  It was long before digital cameras.
Anyway, last night the conductor – a woman who has influenced my life in more ways that she will ever know – dedicated one of my favorite pieces to us, my hubby and me.  It was Biebel’s Ave Maria.  Probably my favorite piece of my college career, maybe top 5 ever.  This piece was even more near and dear to my heart, under the baton of this same conductor.  Against better judgement,she lead a men’s choir of our most amazing friends performing this very piece  at my wedding.  (I’ll have to get it converted to DVD so I can share it!) When she made the dedication to us and shared with the audience that it was from our wedding, it brought tears to my eyes.  I never cry in public.  It was a bit different coming from a mixed choir and of course our guys rocked it even more amazingly.  We were the best, of course!  😀  But, it moved me more than I expected.  

Biebl’s Ave Maria – Miami University Men’s Glee Club


I think it was everything last night –  nostalgia, homesickness where we are now and knowing that what we were witnessing was a reminder of where my family got its start.  This choir tour reminded me of our most simplest of beginnings – a choir tour romance that would be over as soon as we got back to campus. However, what no one saw coming is that I might actually marry Mr. Nice Guy,but I did.  My firefighter and I got our start just like these kids. Singing in small churches for our supper. 

Lakeland College 1862 ~ 2012If you are around, there are two more performances –
  • April 13 – First Congregational United Church of Christ, 724 E. South River St., Appleton, 7 p.m.
  • April 14 – Union Congregational UCC, 716 S. Madison St., Green Bay, 3 p.m.
There is also a Homecoming concert on Campus at 3 pm. You will not be disappointed.
To the Muskies reading this, we are heading to the Sesquicentennial reunion this summer, let me know if you are.  After the concert last night, I can hardly wait! 

The Ghosts of Our Past, Present and Future

11 Apr

I feel like Scrooge. I witnessed my past and my possible future all at once. Our wonderful neighbors have had one of the worst couple of days and there has been nothing I could do, but offer support…and think. Their 20-something daughter is dating a less than ideal choice of man. Anyone that tries to control their significant other in any way, but especially through violence, is not worth a second thought. There was drama, loss, medical care requested and heartbreak. Ultimately, the daughter choose the less than stand up guy over her family.

My heart just hurt. Not only for their loss. Also because I saw myself in another life, with a guy who tried to control my every move. I saw the excuses made for the now scar in my hair line. I saw the arguments over this guy. I saw the betrayal and pain. I saw myself.

And then I saw my girls and my heart just dropped.

I know I can’t control my kids’ choices, I can only help give them the tools needed to live their lives. Ultimately, it is their lives with their decisions to make. I can only keep the doors open and discussions at the time where there is a life lesson to be seen. And pray.

Pray that I have raised them right. Pray that our relationship is strong enough that they will come to me with everything good and bad. Pray. Pray that even when they are wearing their big girl shoes, they will still know they can always come home with whatever it is. Pray that I will have the wisdom to help that at whatever stage of life they find themselves.

It is done

2 Apr

Willow’s on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.  We drove out to our vet’s house last night.  She is simply amazing.  Willow’s hot spot, wasn’t a hot spot.  She said it was probably that her hips were hurting so badly, that she was trying to get whatever was hurting, out.  She didn’t fight, no struggle.  And my Willow girl is a fighter, truly a tough cookie.  But at 8pm last night, there was no fight left.  It was time.  Not that it makes it any easier for anyone.  

A last chance for a few quick pictures…

The kids had a hard time.  I had a hard time.  My FF had a hard time. 

Then, 2:30am, boys woke up with fevers.  When I went to move the truck, it died backing it out of the parking spot, luckily my hubby hadn’t left yet.  He was in the car, but still here.  He pushed me out of the alley.  The Bear got out.  It just did not get any better.  Tears were flowing.  No one slept very well.  The boys said they felt fine, even though I was not so sure.  Just one of those days I guess.

We had a pancake breakfast.   Then I decided to make a trip to Build-A-Bear.  When we got there, no goldens, even though there was one on-line.  So, we opted for a Fennec Fox, looks like a golden whose ears decided to stick up.  We even found bandannas like Will’s.  How perfect!  And it worked.  These little fleece packages of fuzz brought smiles through the tears and suddenly there were some snickers and laughter made its way back.  Kids are amazing!

It worked, they were excited.  And the healing began.  Life can continue now.

I told the kids that they were hurting so badly, simply because they loved so deeply.  Now, Willow is gone and she took part of their hearts with her to keep her company.  All the joy over the last 13 years, is worth the sorrow.  But it does not make it any easier.

Rest In Peace Princess Willow, your reign was amazing.  

January 24, 1999-April 1, 2012.  We will love you forever.

Perspective, Reminders

5 Mar

I can’t sleep.  I have been up since 3am.  I read the newspaper, created a powerpoint for class, checked my Facebook and here I am creating another post.  I don’t often write ahead of time.  Usually, just as the spirit moves me, but this one I might just let cook a bit.

Wisconsin lost a firefighter, just a few hours away.  Another card I have to send, but this was little closer to home.  Details are still coming, we know it was a FF from Colby on a Mutual Aid call and three others were injured.  It sounds like he was on an interior crew when the roof, collapsed, but my hubby is still sleeping, so I can’t bounce that theory off of him.

But, the questions…was he married, did he have kids, was he a he?  All popping through my head.

Most importantly, the reminder.  Being stuck doing the laundry, I am okay with it, as long as my FF comes home to me.  Appliances dying on me while he is on shift, well, he will eventually be home for me to fuss at.  Kids puking on the Blue shift, eventually the Red will come and he will take over for me.

But, for this firefighter’s family, that is no longer the case.  One less firefighter walking through the door, needing to sleep all morning to recover from a long night of constant calls for minor things that could have waited.  One less firefighter walking through the door to joyous cries of happy children.  One less firefighter coming home to a cranky spouse because everything that could have gone wrong, did, while they were on shift.

One Less Firefighter…

Rest in Peace.  Please know that the rest of the fire community mourns your loss, along with your family, even though we don’t even yet know your name.

I guess maybe I won’t let this stew…

Creative Play

4 Mar
 I LOVE IT!  It is a huge part of our world!  I believe it helps kids figure out WHO they are, while they are having fun  

I love it.  When we decided to have kids, one of my first “rules” was no video games.  Well, that lasted for a while.  We now have 3 Leapsters, 1 Diigo, 2 DSis and a Wii.  So you can see, I caved.  BUT, I control them with an iron fist and have no issues saying no when asked if someone can play video games.  

I much prefer creative play.  Which is why my boys’ room bleeds Legos, why my girls’ room have their very own version of Kindergarten “centers”.  There are babies (complete with a nursery), dress up clothes, a princess vanity, Lincoln Logs, play food, several doctors’ kits and a kitchen.  I just got rid of the the tool bench with the last move, and was sad to see it go.  I love pretend play.  O LOVES the plain old boring wooden blocks.  I would much rather have them play this way, than any other.  The play cops and robbers in the neighborhood with the rest of the local crew.  The swingset is used all year long.

Even Homework is completed in costume here.

I love technology, I am a self-proclaimed geek, but sometimes the old fashioned, non-battery powered, no power cord ways are the way to go.

But, it does sometimes lead to scenes like this: 
All you can do is clean up, and start again.  In the long run, it is so worth it.

Now, off to the sledding hill.

Gotta love my FireKids.

Taking Off My Teacher Hat

2 Mar

and putting on my mommy hat.  Not always easy to do when you work in the same building as your colleagues.  I now understand why I had to be the bad guy for all those years when there was something that we were unhappy with in the classrooms and J was teaching in the same building.  For the 3 stooges, our youngest three, it is actually okay.  Even though I teach for the same school as the their teachers, I am in a different building.  So I am seen as just the mommy.  With N, he has joined my school now that he is in 6th grade and I don’t like this.  Treading lightly is what you have to do when you are criticizing a colleagues lessons or procedures.  Treading lightly is not something I do well, literally or figuratively.  

This school year, I have pretty much stayed out of things.  We are in our 3rd and final term for this school year and I sent an email to all N’s teachers.  We are working to find out where the delay is for him.  He loses it somewhere between his head and the paper.  Orally, he can tell you anything you want to know.  He is a wealth of knowledge.  With that, we have found that he does better with his laptop, as opposed to with paper and pencil.  Well, you’d think, being at a 1:1 laptop school, this would be a perfect fit for N.  Unfortunately, not all of my co-workers have tapped into their inner-geek like I have, ahem, despite “encouragement” from above.  So, many classes teachers are still not allowing OneNote for notetaking or to copy down spelling words, etc.  Makes me crazy. Ummm, why do you think everyone of these kids has a computer bag over their shoulder?  But, I digress…  I have tried subtle hints in the mail room, I have offered one to one time helping set up various programs or ideas. And, well, ummm, how do I put this lightly?


So, I sent off my first email, requesting that he be allowed to use OneNote and that they encourage the use of the assignment notebook tab.  We’ll see. I also asked if they were using Moodle or Canvas for their assignments, maybe a touch passive aggressive, ah well. Loose papers or even regular notebooks don’t work with N.  I can always ask my teacher turned firefighter to come in and have a meeting with the staff if there is too much of an issue.

Now, I am going to go back to watching the snowfall and starting my weekend.  Happy Friday!

Be Your Child’s Advocate

28 Feb

Now, full disclosure, I am a teacher.  I have been for 15 years (dang, when did I get old?) But, I have been a mom for 12 of those years.  I am not saying that you should always take your child at full face value.  There are details that kids often hide to keep from getting into trouble.  But, you know how YOU know there is something wrong with your kids, but no one will listen to you, that is what I am talking about.  Be the squeaky wheel.

Our Kindgartener is in Speech.  That was quite a task to get to where we are.  In K3, they declined services and told us there was nothing wrong with her speech, she was young.  Ummm, yeah about that, I am her MOM and I was having a hard time understanding her, 50-60% of the time, out of context.  I should be able to translate FOR other people.  But, when she came running into the room, telling me about something that I could not look at to see what she was referring to, I struggled.  I needed a translator. I could understand her 2 year-old sister more clearly most times.  J and I both sat in that meeting with our jaws wide open.  Really?  He was an elementary teacher. <sigh> So, we switched her to Daddy’s school for K4.  D had my childhood babysitter as her teacher and a wonderful speech teacher, she was receiving services by Thanksgiving.  That is AMAZING considering how long it takes to go from referral to services in the public schools.  And the difference was noted.

Come this year, she started at the private school I teach at.  We do not provide the services, they come from the public schools. I sent her IEP in on the 2nd day, hoping to avoid it getting lost in the first day of school chaos.  Six weeks later, several phone calls to the school (remember, I teacher in the other building) no speech services and you could hear her slipping back.  So, I took things in my own hands, contacted the head of Speech and Language, explained the situation, we had a quick meeting that following Friday and services began.  Now she is doing beautifully.  Squeak, squeak.

I have friends, in real life and in Facebook.  That have concerns about their kids and take everything at face value.  If you don’t agree with the opinions you receive or your gut tells you otherwise, go for a 2nd, 3rd or 4th opinion. Be your child’s biggest and best advocate.  If you have an IEP or 504 in place and you feel your child’s needs have changed, all for a re-evaluation.  It is your right.  It is our responsibility to do whatever is in our power to give our kids the best start we can.