Posted tagged ‘family’

A Little Prayer Moment

March 22, 2010

It’s Spring…….and I teach in an elementary school. 

 ‘Nuff said.

Our lack of a Winter Break has taxed us to the max.  Kids have been raring to bust out of their snow pants and mittens and hats for weeks.  If only their energy level could be collected and bottled.

  I believe we would be on Mars by now.

Every time I pass a Teacher in the hall or the workroom or the lunchroom, we roll our eyes and carry on.

But I….honestly….have a little secret.

Every morning, I sit in my car in the parking lot and say a little prayer.  I pray for a good day.  I pray that my children will be inspired to do their best and to make choices and have actions that will reflect their love of God.  I pray for my sister and her family and the trials they are dealing with in their southern home.  I pray for my parents and their life in an even more southern home.  I pray that my husband will find something constructive and healthy to do with his day while he is laid off.  I pray for the new home we are trying to find.  I pray for my colleagues and their students to make the most of their ‘learning day.’  I pray for myself.

To have patience.

To teach something worthy.

To make my students feel good about themselves and what they can do.

To make my friends feel good about what THEY do.

And then I walk inside and face the day.

With a smile.

And a sense of peace.

And it works.

I mean, who says that God can’t come to school?

The Great American Camp Out

July 8, 2009

   There is no question about it – especially to my Facebook friends.  -this past weekend was not the best of my camping experiences.  And I have had a life time of them.  I am a camper from WAY, way back.  Back in the olden days way back. 

    When I was a kid, my dad would come home from work on Friday and we would toss  sleeping bags, a bottled gas stove, a food cooler and a tent in the back of the car and take off for any of Michigan’s camping destinations.  No need for reservations (see what I mean about the ‘olden days?’).  Muskegon, Grayling, Petoskey, Onaway, Grand Haven, Harrison, Gaylord, Ludington, etc. were all destinations that I knew well.  Eventually we chucked the tent and slept on the cushioned table/bed my father built into his new van.  Then in the interest of ‘privacy’, I acquired a pup tent for my 12th birthday and slept in that.  We also gained a very cool, MASH type walled tent (which I eventually learned how to put up all by myself!) from an uncle who took a busload of kids sight seeing out west. 

     My parents fiddled with the idea of purhasing some sort of camping set up.  We once borrowed a covered wagon pop up from a neighbor.  It rained for most of our trip that time.  They eventually got a small  trailer…and then a motor home.  That motor home became their home on wheels for a while as they tried longer and longer trips after retirement.

     When my husband and I started dating, we camped – with his girls – in a domed tent….with a bottle gas stove, a food cooler and sleeping bags.  One of our first purchases as a married couple was a pop up camper.  We loved it.  We used it for weekend camping and then took it – and the girls – on a trip down the Atlantic coast.  That trip is now affectionately  referred to as the ‘vacation from h-e-double hockey sticks.’  Two premenstrual teenagers in a van for two weeks.  WHATwere we thinking?  Before the Prince arrived from Korea, we had upgraded to a camper.   And at word we would be adding the Princess to our family, we needed something with two bunks for growing kids.  That is our current camping rig.  And we have used it…alot.

     We have camped over Easter weekend in April and as late as Halloween weekend in the fall.   We have camped in private parks and public campgrounds….as well as an occasional available state park.  We have camped where you can explore lighthouses, old forts and beaches.  We have taken the trailer to Kentucky – where my sister’s family joined us from South Carolina.  My children have lots of memories of fireside chats, games of flashlight tag and cooking outside in the cool morning air.  But they don’t have the same memories I have of camping.    We generally camp more locally now.   Camping  in this Great Lake state is no longer something you can do on a whim.  You have to plan ahead.  Reservations are necessary for the best state parks and people begin booking them in January.  

      As  our involvement in soccer has increased, we have had to spend our free weekends – and pennies – on soccer games and soccer tournaments.  In the past two years we have only taken our camper out of storage four – maybe five – times.  We miss it.  That’s why we jumped at the open opportunity to do some camping last week. 

      We did some scurrying to repair a malfunctioning refrigerator in the trailer and got a spot in a local county camping facility.   Our kids love it there.  There is lots to keep them busy.  They can fish and swim and skateboard and ride bikes and snooze.  The pavilion hosts organized dodge ball games, puppet shows, craft activities, nature talks and a DJ at night.  And there is a wonderful fire pit at each site.  Perfect for sitting around and talking.  And then there is the added bonus of being on site for a perfect 4th of July fire works display.

      But this year, it wasn’t fun for me for some reason.  It didn’t feel like ….camping.  I was constantly picking up wet towels and dirty clothes.  There were ants on my table.  Fires were irritatingly smoky.  And it rained.  Alot.  The upside of camping close to home is that you can come home.  And I did.  For one night.   Then we all came home with smoke smelling laundry, aa few left over groceries and satisfied smiles. 

     Inspired by a writing prompt from a new blog I have found, Mama’s Losin’ It, I did a lot of thinking about my camping history.  And here are my thoughts: 

List 5 things you like to do while camping

1. Cook breakfast outside.   While I am not a voracious bacon lover, there really is nothing like the smell of cooking bacon in the crisp morning air at a campground.  Nothing.

2. Play in fire.  This is a delight that has been handed down to my children.  I can build a great fire by stacking wood both tee pee and cabin style.  So can they.   Our problem is we like those roaring flames a wee bit too much.  And bright red tips on the ends of your poking stick.  And s’mores.  And putting in things to see how long it takes them to be ‘transformed’ by fire.  Fortunately we also know how to safely put a fire out. 

3. Read outside in the sun.  I keep a collection of my favorite paperback books in the drawer next to my bed in the trailer.  Having not seen them in a year and a half, I was like a fool at a reunion this time.  Five books in three days.  Sheesh.

4, Play games with other campers.  I think this was my problem last weekend.  My family was off and doing their own thing.  We have generally camped with friends and there was always someone to play a game with me.  Rummicube has long been a favorite.  There is nothing in that game that can be blown away in the breeze.

5. Relax.  Slow down the pace.  Even if it was a Labor Day camping outing and I had a bag full of stuff to get ready for a new school year, there is something about doing it under the trees that is relaxing.  Soooo relaxing.

And I am adding:

5 things I hate about camping

1. Packing the camper.

2. Unpacking the camper

3. Too much rain

4. Too much smoke and smoky laundry

5. Ants on my table.  I realize they come with the territory but this time they REALLY bugged me.  I squashed the little suckers.  Me.  Who has the reputation of catching insects and setting them free outside.

      I am beginning to think that I have outgrown the camping thing.  All of the soccer tourney weekends are spent in hotels…..with spacious showers and air conditioning and comfortable beds and complimentary breakfast bars.  Our road trip to Boston last summer was spent in hotels.  With all of the above.  I am kind of liking that kind of travel. 

    So I am thinking of planning an Oregon Trail road trip for next summer.  So my kids can get a real  feel of our country’s history.  The stuff they are reading about in school.  Only with the hotels and motels and showers and beds and complimentary breakfast bars.  Or maybe we’ll rough it and just skip the breakfast bars.

     Heh.

Patchwork

January 22, 2009

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  “For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.  We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers.  We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace. ”    Barack Obama

I loved that quote from his speech.  A ‘Patchwork Heritage.’  I never thought about it that way but I guess we are.  I was born and raised in the same small community in south east Michigan.  I went to school, took driver’s training and worked at a local K-Mart.  My parents – in the interest of having us ‘see the world’ – took us on trips throughout Michigan, to California and Florida.  I have seen the Golden Gate Bridge, the Grand Canyon, bears at Yellowstone Park, the race track in Daytona, Disneyland AND Disney World as well as collected sea shells from both coasts of Florida.  I lived on campus while attending a small liberal arts college about 40 minutes away from that home for two years and then spent two years in the wide open spaces of Edmond, Oklahoma.  I returned home and lived with my parents until I got married.

My husband, on the other hand, was the son of a career Marine.  He was born in South Carolina and lived in Minnesota and California before coming home to roost in a bustling small town not far from where I grew up.  His  childhood ‘vacation’ experiences basically entailed moving a large family from one military base to another.  He would also spend time at a lake cottage belonging to his grandparents as a teenager.  He got a job, married young, had two daughters and was divorced….’til he met me.

My son was born in Seoul, Korea and spent the first month of his life in a hospital and the next three months with a Korean foster family.  He had a passport and international travel under his belt before I did.  He made the journey from Seoul to Tokyo and Tokyo to Detroit when he was four months old.  He traveled with a baby girl on her way to New York and a professor from the University of Seoul who was a regular ‘escort’ for his Korean adoption agency.  We were told that he wouldn’t take a bottle during the trip but was fed yogurt.  He was dressed in four layers of clothing when he arrived in late June….and a huge smile that made his eyes totally disappear.

My daughter was born in Tuva, a region of Russia that juts into the country of Mongolia.  We are not exactly sure of when or where but we know that someone was looking out for her relative safety.  She entered a Russian baby home at the approximate age of twenty one months.  She was moved to a children’s home in the same town (Kyzyl) when she was four.  She had just turned five when she took her first plane trip from Abakan to Moscow.  We shopped, ate McDonald’s french fries, obtained her visa and flew from Moscow to home .

The four of us live in a home in a community about 30 minutes from the house where I grew up.  It’s only 15 minutes from the home  where my husband’s family lived.  There are small towns and rapidly disappearing farm lands all around us.  Our ‘big’ city is Detroit…and it’s nearly an hour’s drive away….unless the traffic is light and the freeway is free of ice.   We rarely travel those roads.

I think it’s interesting…..miraculous…..how people from – literally – four corners of the earth can be brought together to become a family.  Factor in the two stepdaughters, one son in law and three grandchildren and the ‘quilt’ becomes even more vivid.  Add the silken border of extended family that ribbons from South Carolina to Florida to Maryland to Taiwan to Indonesia…and you have OUR quilt.  We are Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Agnostic and maybe Buddhist.  Just another of your average American families.

Big Busy Three Days

August 1, 2008

The Princess will be 13 in another week. First it was a skateboard ramp….and then it was a rip stick…..and she finally settled for a new bike. A motocross bike. Like the one she flipped over at camp. Which is now sporting a broken back brake cover after just one day ’cause we gave it to her early and she was crowded into a skid by a car going too fast on a dirt road. Scraped knee….BIG time…..lots of tears….but Dad fixed it all and a new cover is on it’s way from the manufacturer. And THIS is what 53 looks like. Finally. There were 15 of us. Dinner was great. The song and horns were obnoxious. And oh so much fun. Sometimes it’s a good thing that my birthday comes first. Hee….. My son, the Youth Police Academy graduate. His team of ten students – one of four – took the Best Teamwork medal tonight. He has learned to take finger prints, dusted for finger prints, driven a golf cart on a traffic school course, participated in simulated traffic stops, practiced criminal take down methods, done a crime scene investigation, practiced shooting fire arms on a simulator, observed a K-9 drug busting unit in action, and on and on and on. I think it was the highlight of his very busy summer!

And NOW the dog is at Puppy Camp, the car is packed, the ipods are charged and we are OFF to Boston for a week!