Category Archives: teaching

August

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A lot’s happened at our house in the last two weeks.  I returned to my job at my wonderful school, this year assisting in the Threes class with a lovely new teacher. Already I know it’s going to be a fabulous year.  Hubby has been working his arse off to get the IT running at a new business site in Atlanta, often working 12-14 hour days. Patrick got a promotion and due to people quitting, at 26 years old, he is now the senior premium auditor in the State of AZ for the insurance company he works for.  Go, Patrick!  Eve is looking forward to finishing the last two years of her Biology degree while working part-time in a doctor’s office.  We were sad for her that the summer job in the mountains being an EMT for the fire fighters didn’t work out (she couldn’t pass the physical test), but she picked herself up, dusted herself off, and made a new plan.

And William?  William seems to be in a state of denial that in six days we will be moving all his worldly belongings up to Flagstaff to settle him in for another year at Northern Arizona University.  He and his girlfriend lounge about binge-watching tv, stopping only to get fast food or a pizza or sweetened coffee drinks.  I’m glad they’re not starving students like I was back at ASU in the late ’80’s (I once sold my textbook a week before finals so I could go barhopping with friends), but I know that my lean years have made me appreciate that nowadays I can order pizza any time I want.  William’s summer job money will be running out soon, and he will be on a strict school budget come next week.   And I’ve warned him that either he packs stuff from home . . . or he will be scrounging at garage sales and Goodwill for the stuff he forgot.  He is a man of few needs, so I’m sure all will work out.  My urge to “mom him” is very hard to suppress, so I’m grateful to be back at work when else wise I might be sorting through extra boxes of dishes and pots and pans to see what he needs.  Our renters at our house near ASU left EVERYTHING, so we own all one would need to furnish a kitchen.

Hubby and I are sad to have William leave.  I’ve never been good at transitions.  While my heart knows it’s time to move forward, my body seems to fight me all the way.  I find myself feeling awkward and in the way. Words are hard (anyone who has ever met me is frowning at this because I am typically very verbose).  I am clumsy.  On the second day of school I was wearing my skirt inside out—luckily Hubby noticed the tag hanging out before I left the house.  Another day I had a pimple coming up on my nose (SO not fair in my fifties!), and another day I spilled my entire cup of coffee into my purse on the drive to school.  I thought the large, squat cup was secured between my purse and lunchbox but when I turned a corner it dumped (nothing was ruined).  Yesterday I washed William’s new bed sheets with a few eye glass cloths from my purse, and some gum was apparently caught on one, so his new sheets ended up with gum on the hem.  GOOD GRIEF.

But all in all, I think we’re doing okay.  Sometimes change hurts, but in this month of August in the year of 2017, I feel like the pain is worth the eventual progress.  I believe my family of five is all moving forward in great ways, even though we’re not getting enough sleep, we’re feeling anxious, and we’re feeling a bit clumsy.  August is a month of great change for many of us with school starting, kids going off to college, and recently, huge political unrest that makes all of us feel uneasy.  Take care of yourselves.  Listen to that inner voice.  I listened to mine tonight which said stay home and make Chicken Makhani and watch terrible Marvel shows with your youngest son and your husband.

Cheers,

Mary

 

 

 

 

Summer’s End

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I always have a song running through my head.  Today’s lyrics were “after the boys of summer have gone.”  Really creative, oh brain of mine!  Tomorrow I return to my job at my wonderful school, and while I am so excited, part of me always feels melancholy about leaving summer behind.

This summer was one of extreme periods of busyness followed by extreme periods of laziness. Hubby and I took vacations to Mexico and then a few weeks later to London and Paris.  After that I visited family in Illinois for a week, and Hubby is currently on business in Atlanta. Preparing for trips takes a lot of energy, as does recouping afterwards.  Between vacations, I facilitated the remodel of our house by Arizona State University where our college-aged children lived for the last seven years (and then sold that house). I’m not sure how I had time to be lazy.  But I did.

I had goals this summer to go the gym daily, yet with my youngest son home from college for the summer, I found myself wanting to stay home to hang out with him, eating grilled cheese sandwiches while watching Games of Thrones, New Girl, and The Ranch. Isn’t it so much more fun to watch tv with friends??  I hope to find my way back to the gym once William and his girlfriend, Katherine, return to Flagstaff in a few weeks, and I don’t regret the five additional pounds around my waist from couch potato-ing with them while eating pizza and french fries.  William is my youngest, and I’m keenly aware of the fact this may be my last summer having one of our kids living at home.

Here are some of the other shows I loved this summer:

Indian Summers is a great drama set in the Himalayas in 1932.  The show focuses on the social politics of the British Empire and the birth of modern India.  If you loved Downton Abbey, you will likely appreciate this PBS mini series which has great acting, dramatic scenery, and beautiful costumes.  Watch it on Amazon Prime.

You can watch Versailles on Netflix.  If you loved The Tudors, this is right up your alley.  I was fortunate to visit the Palace at Versailles a few years ago and found this historically- accurate series to be very interesting, not to mention quite titillating with all of the sexual conquests.  Again, very beautifully filmed and wonderful acting.

I love New Girl.  I rewatched the whole show on Netflix with my kids this summer.  It’s clever and hilarious and awkward, and I love it so much.

Rectify.  OMG.  I can’t seem to talk any of my friends into watching it.  I had no idea there was a fourth season on Netflix, and since it had been so long since I watched the first seasons, I started over from the beginning.  The acting is amazing.  The pacing and tension reminds me of Six Feet Under, but I love Rectify so much more.

I re-watched old favorite movies like The Right Stuff, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, 13 Going on 30, Millers Crossing, and The English Patient.  Okay, I’ll admit I like many different genres, but I love revisiting an old favorite.

This summer may be one of the best I’ve ever had. The angsty words from the Eagle’s Boys of Summer are still playing on repeat in my head, but I’m feeling so hopeful and excited for a fabulous new school year ahead!

Cheers,

Mary

 

 

 

 

Yawns

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It’s been quite a month of travel for me.  I’ve had exciting adventures and slept in many different beds, so how wonderful it felt to get back to my own bed this weekend.  I slept like the dead–until about 7am when my ears were accosted by the sound of tweeting birds, which is very unusual at our house. These birds were serious about their songs; they did not let up, and after an hour, when (half asleep and half awake) I weighed plans about getting ridding of them (BB gun pellets? Sharp bird pest strips planted on the roof?).  I woke up enough to realize it was Hubby’s alarm clock that we both had slept through. ON A SUNDAY MORNING. I seriously wanted to punch him.  I told him he needs to go back to the old-fashioned BEEP BEEP BEEP alarm or else I will be slumbering in a different room.

Hubby is gone for a week to Georgia on a business trip so his alarm clock will not be disturbing me, but I still haven’t slept well for days.  The last night I was in Illinois, I sustained 60 mosquito bites–45 on my left leg and 15 on my right.  These were not the pesky little mozzies we have here in Tempe whose bites disappear after an hour.  These big-ass Midwestern mosquitos left some sort of toxin in my skin, causing each bite to swell to the size of big red nickels . . . and they are so itchy it’s hard to keep my fingernails off them.  It’s been a week and they show no signs of healing.  If they aren’t better by Monday, I will seek medical attention.  I keep wishing I’d used the bug repellant spray offered but nooooooo, I didn’t want the chemicals on me.  UGH.

Then last night Ruby the Wonder Spaniel got me up FOUR TIMES to go out and do her business between 2am and 5am.  She’d eaten so many cicadas before bed that her tummy was literally buzzing.  She does this every year, and while watching her leap about the yard for her summer snacks is Youtube-worthy, those crunchy treats always give her a case of the runs.  I gave her a Tums that she licked at loudly for a good 15 minutes, but then we were back outside soon after that.  Complicating the situation is that I’d taken a Benadryl to try to calm the itch from the bug bites and couldn’t figure out which way the door was!   Several times in the past few weeks, I’ve woken up in the dark thinking Hubby and I are still in our fabulous British hotel room with the magical view of the Tower of London.

Next week school starts and I will be back to an “early to bed and early to rise” schedule. It will be a difficult transition after a summer of staying up past midnight either reading or watching Netflix, waking up with no alarm clock, then napping mid afternoon.  But I am excited to meet the new staff members, new parents, and most of all our students . . . and be living a useful life again after the long, restorative summer break.

Cheers,

Mary

 

Buick

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I am in Mexico.

Yesterday I told you about what a perfect weekend we’re having here in Puerto Penasco, and I also shared that we are co-habitating with a roach the size of a Buick.  Last night, our paths crossed again (cue horror movie music).

Let me begin this story by telling you that we almost didn’t make it out for dinner because I was so enraptured by the sunset. Clouds in the sky over the ocean = fantastic sunset.  (No clouds?  Eh, the sun goes into the ocean, blah blah, it’s fine.)  But last night’s sky looked as if it were on FIRE with pinks and oranges and reds all striped over each other, and every minute it changed, and then it got darker and then there were hues of purple and even the shape of it changed.  I tore myself away from the first part to smooth my hair and apply some mascara, and on the drive up Whale Hill to the restaurant, I just kept ooohing and aaaahing because it was seriously A Moment of Extreme Beauty which I will always remember.  The restaurant was full; we drove down to the malecon and I snapped a beautiful photo of the brilliant sky over the parking lot next to Flavio’s.  I know that doesn’t sound exactly “delightful” but I was really happy with the juxtaposition of this amazing effect of nature over a dusty parking lot full of old cars—the light and shadows were so cool.

We had a terrible dinner at Mary’s Seafood.  Almost inedible.  I gave them a brutal yelp review, which was well deserved. Thumbs up for a fantastic margarita and good service though!

We arrived back home, turned on the kitchen lights and EEEEEEKK!!!!! Buick the Roach was sniffing at a small spot of bacon grease on the stove top.  My mind did this amazing analysis of the situation, sort of like what Sherlock Holmes does in the recent Guy Ritchie movies.  Everything slowed down.  I considered attempting to pull a spatula from the jar of utensils which was situated BEHIND the roach and that scenario played out with the roach running away.  I surveyed the kitchen island to my right and saw nothing useful in killing/stunning a roach.  So I picked up the heavy ceramic spoon rest and SMASH!  With the agility one would expect from a person who has just consumed a plate of heavy fried seafood and a margarita as big as her head, I hit Buick with that spoon rest, screaming out a warrior’s cry, “HIYA!!!”  And much to Hubby’s and my chagrin, the spoon rest broke in two and Buick ran back into the hole behind the cupboards, laughing and calling me nasty names in Spanish (words that cannot, dear Reader, be repeated here).

The spoon rest was placed in the trashcan after a brief discussion about trying to glue it back together and rapidly coming to the conclusion that spoon rests are completely unnecessary objects and whoever invented them should be ashamed of themselves.   We hope the condo co-owner who buys these silly decorative items will not miss the Very Important Spoon Rest.

During all of this excitement, we noticed the windows whistling.  We slid open the glass door to the beach, and HOLY MOSES, the wind was INTENSE.  Amazing might be the better word.  All outside condo lights were off, but the moon was shining so brightly that the entire beach was illuminated.  I stepped off the patio onto the sand and instinctively spread my arms out to feel the strong, warm wind.  It buffeted my entire body—that’s how powerful it was.  Hubby came out and put his arms out, too.  From nine til midnight I sat outside in the wind, listening to music on my headphones and occasionally following the path made by the moon down to the high tide, rolling up my pant legs to wade into the warm ocean.  It was simply glorious. If anyone was watching from their patio, they probably were concerned for this middle-aged, clearly-deranged woman who kept walking down the beach to visit the night ocean.

The only bad news from the weekend (apart from Buick escaping) is that all attempts at protecting my face from sunburn failed.  I’m as pink as a pig, which is bad enough on its own but also typically results in a big nose pimple.  That should be popping up on Thursday morning as I head to work (I am subbing at my year-round school later this week).  I swear to you I applied sunscreen and wore a hat and stayed mostly in the shade.  It honestly feels quite lovely to be in my fifties and not really care what people think anymore.

I will end by telling you about the book I’m reading and cannot put down.  Through Painted Deserts:  Light, God, and  Beauty on the Open Road is written by a modern-day philosopher and all-around-super-smart guy named Donald Miller.  His writing is beautiful and honest and thought provoking–I am smitten. I watched a recent interview where he caught a lot of grief by saying he doesn’t really feel God when he’s at church.  Though he is Christian (and my beliefs are a bit of this and a bit of that) I found him simply charming and relevant to my world view.  Here is a passage from the book which resonated with me today:

“It’s interesting how you sometimes have to leave home before you can ask difficult questions, how the questions never come up in the room you grew up in, in the town in which you were born.  It’s funny how you can’t ask difficult questions in a familiar place, how you have to stand back a few feet and see things in a new way before you realize nothing that is happening to you is normal.”

I find this to be 100% true, which is why I love to travel.  Getting away gives my mind space to question, space to forgive myself for not leading the perfect life, and space to imagine.  As much as I love getting away, I love returning home with the hopes of trying to be just a little bit better/different/happier.

Cheers,

Mary

The Day I Almost Got Run Over by the Light Rail (and Other Stories)

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On this quiet Wednesday evening, I’m trying to remember everything I wanted to tell you.  I leave notes for myself, but days later I can’t crack my own code of shorthanded and abbreviated words written messily in pencil on small scraps of paper.

One story I DEFINITELY remember is called, “The Day I Almost Got Run Over by the Light Rail.”  It goes like this:  A few Fridays ago, my adorable sister-in-law LeaAnne and I were cleaning out the last bits of stuff from the ASU House so as to ready it for sale.  (My kids lived there during their college years.)  How we ended up with 20 cans of paint, four large containers of pest control poison, two packages of weed killer, etc., I’ll never know, but we were responsible citizens and drove a whole trunk full of haz mats to the Tempe recycling center on University.  On the drive back we were chatting and when I came to a red light by a train crossing, I remembered that one is never supposed to stop one’s car on a train track.  So I was careful to come to a stop a few yards in front of the tracks.  Lea and I continued to chat, while I kept an eye on the light which seemed like it was red for way too long.  THAT’s when LeaAnne made a strange noise, and we both screamed as the railroad arm came down and bounced off the hood of the SUV.  Then we heard the clanging of the train alert, and I madly tried to put us into reverse.   I’d only driven Hubby’s new car once before and the gear shift is super awkward, but PRAISE THE LORD, the driver behind me had left space, and I backed up JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME as the light rail trains swished by in both directions.  I was shaking and looked around for any sort of warning I may have missed, but all I saw was one small street sign announcing, “Do not park on XX.”  Well.  THAT would have been good to know.  The next day I texted Lea and said, “I’m so so so sorry for almost getting us run over by the light rail yesterday.  Do you think we would have been smart enough to jump out of the car if we were on the tracks??”  She didn’t respond . . . so the next day I texted her again and she said, “I’m still wondering!!!”  All’s well that ends well, and I’m 100% certain I’ll have anxiety anytime I’m near a train crossing for the rest of my life.

Here’s a short list of other interesting moments from the past few weeks:

  • I binge-watched on Netflix Anne with an E, which is an adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, which were favorite books when I was a preteen.  I loved every moment of this new series and am so sad that Season Two will not be available for a whole year.
  • I bought a squatty potty from Amazon which had been recommended by teacher friends and by my naturopath, but it turns out Hubby and I are naturally good at doing our business.  This weird stool thing actually worked against me, and when I went online to return it to Amazon, I was given a full refund and was informed they did not want the item back.  Imagine that!  (Let me know if you’d like to try it.)  (Note to self:  Do NOT buy trendy healthcare products.)
  • As long as I’m oversharing, I’ll confide that one hot day last week I decided to go for a long walk in pants that were very uncomfortable and developed a heat rash on my keister.  I was applying Desitin cream before bed each night and the problem was almost resolved.   I put the tube of Desitin in the same drawer as the toothpaste and one night when I was sleepy, I accidentally applied Colgate Optic White which had quite the opposite effect as the one which was desired and again, I think to myself, how can I be so bad at life when I’ve been alive for so many years????
  • I’ve not been able to lose any additional weight which I partially attribute to the fact that a little orange tube of Braunschweiger caught my eye at the grocery store a few weeks ago, and it’s become a sinful late-night snack.  I love it on Saltine crackers. When I was a child, my mom often packed liverwurst on white bread with mustard in my school lunchbox.  It’s not good for you nutritionally and is full o’ fat.  I love it.
  • Today I found a website called MyAnimalWeight.com where I found out my weight equals 7.9 honey badgers, 8.8 ocelots, 14.2 raccoons, 39 hairy tree porcupines, and almost HALF A LION!  Definitely one of the strangest websites I’ve visited–you MUST check it out.   I’m hoping to lose one honey badger by the end of the summer and a raccoon in the Fall so I’ll be slim for our oldest son’s wedding in January. Goodbye liverwurst . . . I’ll be seeing you in my dreams.

Cheers,

Mary

Gum on My Shoe

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The smell of chocolate chip cookies baking in my oven is making my mouth water.  I love the dough more than the baked product, don’t you?  I already ate one uncooked cookie, so NO MORE for me!

Last night was magical . . . Eve and I saw my favorite band, Bastille, in downtown Phoenix.  We had decent seats, and Dan (the lead singer) is great about walking through the audience—so exciting to see him standing in our aisle!  They played most of my favorites, and it was great to see my best band with my best girl.  I was shocked Eve didn’t want me to buy her a beer—she’s 21 and I remember what I was like at 21, anyway, I’m proud of her that she was being responsible about getting up early for work next day.  I was not the oldest person there, the crowd was so pleasant, and not one person held a phone up to block my view.  The only negative is I somehow stepped on a huge wad of gum . . . so dancing along with the music was, well, a bit sticky.  I sighed because I knew it was karma paying me back for taking the stale piece of gum from my mouth and throwing it out into the pristine desert on a hike last week.  Well played, Universe.  Well played.

(Excuse me while I go take the cookies out of the oven.)

(Uh-oh, I just ate another cookie.  That’s two.  UGHHH.)

Part of our concert adventure was I had my very first Uber ride to the venue. I felt like a movie star being let out at the front door of Comerica Theater, and not having to park in a stinky parking garage a mile away was a huge perk.  But when it was time to go home after the concert, the rate had increased from $12 to $40!  YIKES.  Eve uses Uber all the time and suggested we walk away from the venue. Half a mile and 15 minutes later, the rate was down to $17 so I grabbed it.  Poor Eve got home at midnight and had to be at work at 6am.  She said it was worth it.  I was so jazzed from the concert, I stayed up until 2am replaying the concert in my mind and playing Words with Friends on my phone.

In other news, I’ve been interviewing for a new school job.  I love my school sooooooo much—but I just don’t dig working full time. I’m still subbing about once a week and love love love my time there (it’s all good).  Today I interviewed for a 20-hour gig as an instructional assistant at an elementary school one mile from my house.  I was so awkward.  I parked in the wrong parking lot and had to walk all the way around to get to the office.  As I was asked into the office by the principal, we were chatting and I didn’t pay attention to where we were going . . . so when we were finished talking, I tried to exit through the closet door (which was right next to the correct door) and then turned the wrong way down the hallway.  On the way home, I checked my eye make up in the mirror and was dismayed to see a very long hair protruding from my left nostril. Really??  Seriously?? (I need to get better bathroom lighting.) When discussing the candidates, I will likely be referred to as “Chubby Lost Woman with Nose Hair”. I don’t have high hopes for landing that job.

There goes my oven timer again.  I’m going to eat another cookie.  Cookies for dinner—there are worst sins (but it explains why my figure has become so matronly in the past few years).  And with that, I will stop here, because my oldest son told me he tends to read the first few paragraphs of my posts but does not finish (said with a very serious look in his eye), “Because, Mom, you know, you DO tend to go on and on.”  Sweet boy.

Cheers,

Mary

A Love Letter

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Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d write a love letter to those people who make my life so wonderful.  Valentine’s Day when I was in elementary school was so fun–filling out our little grocery-store purchased cards that read, “Will you be mine?”  I continue that tradition today by sending Valentines to my best girlfriends, and of course, always give Hubby a mushy card.

My first love letter is to my children—all grown up now (ages 19, 21, and 25) but who still text me back each day when I ask, “All ok?”  This is not a typical thing for offspring at this age, and for that, I feel truly blessed.  Hubby and I tried so hard to be perfect parents, but there were certainly mistakes we made along the way.  My kids are my favorite people to hang out with–they are smart, silly, and make me laugh. None of us is perfect, but I think we’re all growing in a positive way.

My next love letter is to my friends. What would I do without you?  Hiking, long walks, breakfasts, lunches, happy hours, dinners; sharing our lives and telling funny stories.  It’s the icing on the cake of life!  On Sunday I ran into several old friends in the grocery store of all places where we had meaningful conversations by the milk and butter case.

Another love letter goes to my wonderful school, The Awakening Seed.  I love everything about you:  I love how everyone remembers all your little problems and asks how you’re doing; I love how the children make me laugh, and how all problems are dealt with using kindness and humor; and how the parents and grandparents let you know how much they appreciate what you do.

This may sound silly to you non-pet owners, but I’m sending out so much love to my three cats and my dog, Ruby the Wonder Spaniel.  We are now six months into being empty nesters and without Cosmo, Tilly, Olive, and Ruby, it would have been a much tougher transition. They don’t seem to mind the extra hugs and cuddles.

Lastly, a love letter to my husband who patiently listens to all my silly stories, my concerns about our children, and is always up for whatever I want to do whether it’s shopping or visiting a new restaurant. And even though he’s such a smarty pants, he never disparages me or makes me feel dumb when I don’t know how things work, like the internet *cloud*.  (Me pointing at the sky, “Are my photos in that cloud?”)  And not once in our 28 years of marriage has he ever said no when I ask him to scratch my back “for just a minute” when I can’t fall asleep at night.  I love you, Honey!

Happy Valentine’s Day to All!

Mary