Thursday, September 24, 2009

willy and roxie

I love our house. I've been browsing blogs tonight - I love this task and so rarely have the time anymore - anyway, as I said, I've been blog hopping and I've realized, as I saw all of the gorgeous photos of homes and such, I love my house.

(I'll post photos sometime soonish - maybe.)

Our house was built in 1902. It is rumored to have been a rectory for the Catholic church some blocks away, and was thought to have been moved in the early '20s to this spot. It feels like my grandparents homes. Both sets of grandparents' homes. Little snippets here and there. It smells like family. It smells like dust and chicken dinners and coffee for friends and children and crayons and pledge and pets and work and music...

This house has only ever seen girls raised here. The last family had 4 girls. That was when Willy and Roxie owned the home. They bought it in 1960 and sold it in 2005, to us.

It needs work, but it's ours. And we are so lucky.

I'll share more later, but I didn't want to forget to be thankful for something so important. It shelters us and keeps us warm and together and feels like home and family. Lots of family and shared, happy memories.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

the fast and low-down

So. Time goes really fast. Crazy fast. It's good. I'm happy. I'm busy. I feel like I am doing something that matters to someone. To lots of people, actually.

I love being a mom. My girls are so spectacular. They are loving school, and being so wonderfully successful. I love the time that we get to spend together at dinner! I look forward to hearing everyone chime in with what they learned that day. Yaya chimes in and is so thrilled to finally be in school. Noni and Via are thriving. We are planning parties and sleep-overs and all that stuff. Via (10 yrs old), was asked if she wanted to date a boy at school. Luckily, she said "No." There will be no dating until she's 16, then it will be group dates only.

We are making lots of trips to piano lessons, and brownies, and gymnastics, and swimming lessons, and church choir. Then there are play dates and ... you get the idea! It's rich and lovely and I am in bliss.

School is going really well. I love teaching. I feel like I was ... called to be a teacher. I am teaching 4 sections of theater to kids K - 6. I am also teaching math and reading in an RTI block. I've got a tremendous bunch of 4th grade students. We actually have conversations, these kids and I - questioning and thinking and working on math and reasoning through lit questions... Sounds kooky, I know. But I really love these kids.

The next challenge and shining moment in my life are the kids that I am mentoring. Our school had low NCBA test scores and is in danger of being re-configured (yikes!) so we (the staff) have all chosen to mentor the students with the lowest test scores. I have chosen 2 girls - same family - and I dig these kids. The hardest part part is knowing that these lovely little people go home to such hell, it's breaking my heart.

Without telling you all too much, I want to share their story. Mom is an alcholic/drug addict. She is single parenting 4 children. The youngest is an angelic little boy in 2nd grade and there are 3 older sisters (I think that's all the kids at home, but hwo knows?). It's really no big surprise that these kids come to school unprepared. How could anyone be ready to learn when you never know what kind of chaos is waiting at home?! I've given the girls my phone number - the youngest girl calls me every night to "check her homework." I'm pretty certain that what she really wants is anything BUT homework help.

Last Monday, the children returned to school. We've managed to completely catch up th youngest girl - homework in on time for the first time in years! But the little boy... he wasn't in school. His sisters said that he'd been hurt over the weekend. When all of the pieces of the story were put together, we learned that one of the older children had jumped on this little boy. The mother - who may or may not have been home at any point during the weekend, has not taken the child to the doctor. We think that his collar bone is broken. It's happened before, the kids say. The boy came to school on Tuesday. His arm was in a sling. He is in obvious pain.

We've told all of the authorities, but I worry so much about these children. They are kind and loving and simply want to belong to a family that offers safety and security and comfort and love. Daddyman and I talked about fostering - we don't have the room, yet. But oh, if the world works it's magic, these children will be placed with a family that can love and care for them. A family that will offer these children the safety and security that they deserve. A family that they can count on to do the right thing.

Until that happens, I will continue to answer the phone for "homework help." I will try to help these children learn so that they can make the most of their lives. I will help them learn to love to learn so that they can see their own future - a future that is different from the one they live in now!

So now, I am really tired. I am tired and I am going to take care of myself tonight and go to sleep.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

the great minnesota get together...

So. This is where we lost Ava. The Minnesota State Fair. One minute, she was there. The next minute, she was gone.

As I looked over this enormous sea of people, I couldn't even begin to think about where to start looking for her. I put the two older girls at a corner and insisted that they STAY PUT! They held hands and held their breath. And Rick and I ran in circles shouting Ava's name at the top of our lungs.

Other parents seeing what was going on started searching as well.

If felt like HOURS.

Shouting and running and looking. Running in circles. Shouting like crazy people.

Then, I stopped at a ticket booth. "How can I find my child?" I shouted through the bullet proof glass. "I can't find my daughter! She's too little to be here alone. She's only 4 years old! I can't find her."

They were calm and gentle and efficient. The sweet smelling lady in the blue t-shirt picked up her walkie-talkie and started talking to people at other ticket booths. Have you seen...? She's really little... Yes, pink dress...

Calling and talking and paging.

Then, someone called back.

"We think we found her." the quiet voice crackeled on the other end.

The lady in blue picked up the phone to get the details in private. Trying not to frighten me. I am shaking and tears are running down my hot cheeks. There are too many of us in this tiny ticket booth. Everyone is trying to be calm. They talk too quietly. I am very afraid. I hear everyone breathing.

Then, the nice lady hung up the phone and turned to me. "Is her name Ava?"

I could only nod.

"They've found her. She's OK. She's at the East ticket booth. Mike will take you there now."

I don't know if I said thank you. I had to run to keep up with Mike. He looked to be about 72 - short, maybe an ex-marine. As we walked-ran-darted through the crowd to where we hoped to find Ava, he said, too quietly, "you'd be surprised how many people this happens too. We'll be there in just a minute. Can you keep up?"

I couldn't see anything through my tears. I wasn't breathing. I was frantic. I'm so glad that he kept talking. It gave me something to hold onto. Something to follow through all of the sweaty State Fair visitors.

Then, there she was. In the arms of a very nice looking woman. She wasn't crying. She wasn't talking or fighting to get out of her arms. She was just waiting. I heard the woman say, "Don't worry, sweetheart. They'll find your mom. Mom's sometimes get lost at the fair."

"OK" was her tiny answer.

Then I had her in my arms. I was squeezing her and holding her and crying into her sweaty hair.

The nice woman patted my arm, and said, "Everything will be OK now, mom. You found her." Two college girls showed up from across the street. "Are you her mom? We were really worried. We saw her standing here. She was lost. We didn't know what to do. You're her mom, right?"

"Yes. Yes! I'm her mom!"

Then Mike turned me around and started steering me back to the other ticket booth. The last place I'd seen my other children. I hadn't even told Rick I had her. I hadn't told anyone where I was going. I just went.

Mike reached over and patted my shoulder. "Remember, it's not her fault. She didn't mean to get lost."

"I know." I said. "I know. She's only four years old. It was my fault. My fault that Ava got lost. It wasn't her fault at all."

I was calling Rick on his cell phone when we turned the corner. He had his cell phone in his hand to call me. He looked like I felt. Then he cried when he saw Ava in my arms.

Then, a doughy lady and her pasty husband, along with their 5 children, held Rick's hand and said, "I new something bad was happening when I heard you calling for your daughter. You looked so frightened. I started praying right then that God would bring her back to you safely. We all prayed."

"Yes we did," said the husband, nodding his head gently.

"God answered our prayers today at the Minnesota State Fair."

Thank you. Thank you for praying. Thank you for looking. Thank you for caring about one family's daughter. Thank you sweet smelling lady with the quiet voice. Thank you Mike who led me through the crowd. Thank you to the moms and dads that saw our panic and started to search with us. Thank you young girls who knew that something wasn't right about a four year old girl standing alone at the Fair. Thank you nice woman who told my daughter that it would be ok, mom's get lost sometimes. Thank you praying lady for caring enough to stop what you were doing and care for Rick and our family. Thank you, God, for teaching us how precious our children are and how quickly our lives could change.

15 minutes.

This whole thing lasted 15 minutes.

What do you do if you loose your child for a lifetime?

Ava is snuggled in bed, waiting for me to tuck her in. I am so thankful that she is safe. I have a whole new prayer to say tonight.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Sometime, I find that I am gasping for air.


Not breathing.

Nothing involuntary.

Nothing gentle.

When did breathing become such a difficult thing to do? I am working really hard to just master the involuntary action of breathing in and out, in and out.

School starts on Tuesday. Had a vicious prep week last week. Mom and Dad home from the Lake. Friends on the edge. Children gone mad!

In and out.

In and out.

My mother tells me I am gasping for air.

Yes. I am.

I forget to breathe.

I am too busy holding may breath, sucking my stomach in, trying to look like I've got my life together - like everything is rosy and happy and good.

In and out.


in and out.

in, in, in, in, in, in,

in and out.

How can a person forget to breathe?