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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Watching Progress Step by Step

It's hard to believe that nearly nine months ago we lost our home. Within all the tears, fear, and unknowns we continue to come up for air. Watching the progress has been both exciting and confusing. I say confusing because the circumstances create mixed emotions. It's difficult to watch so much good come from something that was so horrific. Yet, so much good has come.

We still have a long way to go but upon returning from our ten nights of camping yesterday Shawn and I went to take a peek at the progress. We now have tile on the floor in the bathroom, air conditioning is in, new duct work, electricity is hooked up and working, and so many other pieces are falling into place. They think siding will be soon. Soffits and fascia were going up while we visited.

Shawn and I continue to be grateful for the many things we have been 
afforded following this event in our lives. We have a beautiful home to live in while ours is being built. We have friends and family from all over who have come to our aid. We have been surrounded by love, understanding, and care. It is a beautiful thing to witness so much kindness.
As much as I wish this had never happened and I wish the constant worry, stress, and pressure to work through this whole process would end, we will have a beautiful home when it is all over. We will all be together and back in our home. I cannot thank each of you enough from this community who helped us early on way back in November. Your support did not go unnoticed and I appreciate your kindness and generosity. My Two Writing Teachers team was unwavering in their support as well and I could not ask for a better group of people to work with on the blog. My school community helped in so many ways, easing my mind as they took care of my classroom and at times my own children.

Visiting the house today, after being away for a stretch of time, reminded me of how far we have come. Each day we are a little closer to our move in date and each day we are a little more healed. My feet are weary from all the steps it has taken to get here but I suppose we can all keep going as we approach that finish line. Step by step.










Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Experimenting




My feet have covered a lot more ground lately. I've been stepping on several paths, trails, and many grains of sand have scraped between my toes. 
I've found time to read more, write more, breathe a little more. Fresh air has been my friend and it seems like the air stretches the hours a bit. 

 

We are on our third camping trip of the summer. Most likely our last until next year. I downloaded an app today that should allow me to blog through the day as we travel around. I've tried this before with some success. We'll see how this one works. For now I'd call this an experiment. 

The kids made their own survival tools this morning! 

We all went on a hike to "Lake of the Clouds." Beautiful!









Janie loving on grandma and grandpa's dogs. 


A little beach time. AND by little I mean about fifteen minutes. Lake Superior is not forgiving when it comes to temperature or its famous biting flies. Sure is pretty though! The kids found their own little private beach and an organic flotation device! 








Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Not as Bad as Meredith Grey

I was in the biggest funk last week. I started to think it might be because I was going to turn forty. Turns out, I don't think that was it at all. I'm in the, "it's the end of the year" funk. I can hardly stand it. It's the kind of funk you wish you could just wash off with a good hot shower but it lingers.

I watch and listen to everyone stew and complain. The students get a little meaner and more spiteful. It's so sad to watch everyone turn toward the dark side.

Yesterday, I was having a conversation with my principal about one of my students who is really struggling. I said, "Have you looked around? No one is at their best right now! We have to be understanding of one another, breathe a little. No one is at their best and that includes the students."

My way of coping? Re-watching Grey's Anatomy from the beginning on Netflix. It has turned out to be good therapy. I literally say in my head, "It's not as bad as Meredith Grey." It seems like literally, everything happens to that girl.

And really, it never really gets that bad. Mindless drama watching seems to have put me at ease a bit and I am able to breathe again.

So, my advice...feeling like your life can't get any worse, watch season two, it could definitely be worse. I say that tongue and cheek of course. Some people do have serious and real issues to deal with. Myself included. However, I just can't dwell. I would get swallowed up if I couldn't find a reason to smile. Instead, I'm just going to keep moving.






Friday, March 31, 2017

Day Thirty-One of Thirty-One: All Mine


We always tell each other, don't take things for granted. Be grateful for all you have. Always be brave. We say these things to each other. All of us, well, most of humanity. We mostly live by these rules. We say these things and as much as we mean it we sometimes forget. Sometimes we get a bit caught up or caught off guard by life. 

All month long I sliced mostly about things we lost in the fire. I threw in a slight deviation here and there while sticking to my "not my" theme. What I never said was that there was a lot more that could have been lost in those wee hours of the night back in November of 2016. I didn't mention all the "what if" statements I've wondered about over the past several months. I certainly never think, gosh, what if I could have saved that mug or what if I could have snapped a quick picture of the wall in my kitchen with all the little growth marks on it. I never think of those, "what if" statements. It's the horrifying "what if" that I think about. 

Regardless, I'm lucky. I'm grateful. I'm brave. For all these reasons and so many more. My amazing parents, in-laws, sister, and all my extended family beyond. 










Thursday, March 30, 2017

Day Thirty of Thirty-One: Not My



This was the first year I followed a thread through my SOLSC posts. I was really hesitant to try it. I wasn't sure I could do it. Could I keep it going? I knew it would be hard for a few reasons. In the past, I was able to treat the challenge as a way to force myself to notice. To be a witness to my life and record the little, the big, and the invisible. This year, following the "not my" thread through each post, was a new challenge. I think I will really appreciate having recorded all these bits of life that are not mine. I might have forgotten otherwise and it is a further testament to the importance of writing down the small, the big, and the invisible.

When we ask ourselves to be a witness we see all. We reflect more deeply and the fog of our day to day dissipates. Visibility improves. I not only understand myself a little better but I understand everyone around me a little better too.

As I wrote it all down, you became a witness to my life and I became one of yours.

I have appreciated the journey and tomorrow's slice will not be a "not my." Thirty days of thinking about what is no longer is enough. Thirty-one seems like a fresh number. A turning point you might say. Here's looking to tomorrow. The last day or maybe the first day.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Day Twenty-Nine of Thirty-One: Not My Nest


The other day I could hear a clattering below our bedroom window. It sounded like something was banging into the drain spout. I asked my children what they thought the noise was. They knew immediately.

"Oh, it's that bird that lives in the nest by the back door."

I had to go look of course. I haven't attempted to get a closer look yet but it appears to be empty, no eggs. I snapped a picture and thought about how much work goes into making a nest. Strand by strand. Carefully placed. Sometimes a sprig of tinsel here and there. It's not my nest but it did inspire a poem.



With bits of green,
brown, and gray

Pieces of earth
painstakingly placed

Carefully woven
with a mix of glitz

Tucked safe and tight
nestled by brick




Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Day Twenty-Eight of Thirty-One: Not My Nine-Year-Old


When did this happen? When did this little girl become double digits? Shawn and I were talking about it last night and realizing as we talked that in less time than we have known her she will likely be moving on. Starting an independent life of her own.

As I watched her last night decorating her cupcakes for school I could see that independence blooming. She's grown so much over the past year. Her confidence is no longer in short supply. She brushes her hair on a more regular basis (this is a big deal). Her style is all her own. The creativity inside her continues to make its mark and some day I am sure will make a splash in a big way.

She's not my nine-year-old anymore. :)



Monday, March 27, 2017

Day Twenty-Seven of Thirty-One: Not My House


Today I was teaching a poetry lesson on personification. I talked about taking an existing poem and just changing the perspective.
Did you write a poem about the sunrise? How do the trees tell the poem? How about the sun?

I also explained that personification is a great way to explore sensory details. Thinking about the five senses +1 (emotional feeling) and giving objects or non-human things senses can help when trying to add personification to a poem.

Later I was thinking about what I might personify in a poem. I thought about my poor empty house. As I started to write about it, I realized I wasn't personifying it quite like I expected but instead writing it a letter of sorts.

I sometimes wonder
if you miss us.
I feel bad
you were left behind.

Empty.
Dirty.
Different.
Alone.

We are okay.
Don't worry
but we miss you.
We'll visit again soon.

So, I decided to try again and write something truly from the house's perspective. I realized that I couldn't do it. It's a little too hard to think about the house as a person. Then I thought about how they are going to tear it down and I thought the house might wonder if that was going to happen. It might ask. I didn't want to tell the house. In a weird way, putting that in a poem would be like admitting the house was dead and I'm not quite ready to do that. I'm not ready to tell the house.

This place, it is not my house. It is a home. It is comfortable. My house is not jealous. It is not human. But I do sometimes feel its feelings. Its sadness. I feel it for the house. I am my house.

This is not my house. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Day Twenty-Six of Thirty-One: Not My Cabinet



My great-grandmother, Edith, was quite a character. When I was still living at home we would go every weekend to take her out to lunch and run different errands. She lived about thirty minutes from our house in a nursing home. She was a very observant lady who, even though she could barely see, didn't seem to miss a beat. Edith was always up for a trip or a good chicken wing. 

Because she spent a lot of time alone, she had a lot of time to think and watch the Lawrence Welk Show. We would often know when it was on because she would call to tell us the channel. Surely we would want to watch too. She would also call quite frequently to ask my mom about various items.

"Do you know where you put my salt and pepper shakers?"

There were so many things she wondered about and she would often give my mom directions as to which cabinet or drawer the item had once belonged to. I imagine it gave her a reason to call but I also think she honestly wondered about all her "stuff." 

I have a better appreciation for that wonder now. I sit here, all the time, my mind might be on any number of things but I still picture my house. I picture my cookbooks every Sunday because I would often grab one or two from the cabinet above my stove when I was making my meal plan for the week. Rarely did I actually pick a new recipe but I really liked looking through my cookbooks. I imagine my great-grandma also pictured her home and exactly where those salt and pepper shakers used to be. 

The cabinet above the stove here is empty. It's not my cabinet. I look forward to rebuilding my cookbook collection and filling up a cupboard with new memories one day. 


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Day Twenty-Five of Thirty-One: Not My Shoes

Back on day twelve I sliced about "not my style." I was ready to break into spring weather wear and mentioned the fact that I haven't purchased any sandals and I still only have one pair of shoes.

Well, now I don't even have those!
Elliot, my eleven year-old, and I have have the same size feet at the moment. He must, at all times, have two pairs of tennis shoes. We have learned we just always need a backup. This was one of the first purchases we made for the kids. He had one pair of shoes for a couple of days until I quickly bought another pair remembering the day would come when he would need a back-up for whatever reason.

Last week, one of his shoes got caught on the leg of a desk and tore a hole right in the side. He came home with packaging tape all over his foot and shoe. Enter back-up shoes! I was so proud that I had gotten them and wouldn't have to run out that night to get shoes.

The next day Elliot and my husband were playing soccer in the back yard. The ball went out on the ice covered channel. Without going into that story, Elliot's shoes got completely soaking wet. We put the shoes down in the basement near the heater in hopes they would be dry by morning. I was sure they would be.

It was a typical run around like crazy get this, grab that morning.
Elliot goes to put his shoes on and says, "Um, mom, my shoes are still really wet."
WHAT? A moment of panic, then I remember we have the same size foot!
"Here, try these on."
"These are perfect! They are actually kind of comfortable."

Relief.

That night, as I watched him run around in the backyard I realized I didn't have shoes anymore. I'm pretty sure he's claimed them and knowing him, he'll need that back-up pair anyway.

Not my shoes, anymore. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Day Twenty-Four of Thirty-One: Not My Fans


I've never had a house with a ceiling fan. In this house, every single room has a ceiling fan. Each one is different and a little unique from the others. Today was warm. It actually felt a little hot! We had all the windows open and several of the fans going. The breeze throughout the house made me feel like I was outside. As I would walk from room to room I was constantly hit with moving air. It felt pretty good. Fresh. There is nothing better than opening up all the windows in the house on one of the first warm days of spring. Each breath feels a little cleansing like you are exhaling winter.

Not My Fans 
Well, three of the six anyway.



I wasn't allowed to turn this one (below) off. It's actually really warm in our bedroom! I promise that is not me complaining about the heat already. ;)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Day Twenty-Three of Thirty-One: Not My Fowl



Some of you may remember, from previous years, how much I have sliced about birds. I love birds. I have written many poems about them and I find them fascinating. I don't necessarily like "pet store" birds, they kind of freak me out, but birds in the wild. I love them!

When I was a little girl I would chase birds around my yard desperate to catch one. I wanted one so badly. When I see my first robin each year in the spring, it makes me so happy. I've been in near car crashes because of unusually early robins.

Perhaps one of my most favorite birds EVER is the Great Blue Heron. Once when we were kayaking down the river a few years back we saw one as it flew over the water. It was an amazing sight. I would occasionally see one on my drive to work. I don't think I ever got a picture of it. My kids got really good at getting my attention when a bird was near.

Tonight Elliot was taking the dog out and ran back in the house.

"Mom, get your phone. You aren't going to believe this."

There, right on the edge of the water was a heron eating a fish. I've never seen one eat right before my eyes like that. I scrambled to get my phone and video it's little dance on the side of the water. It was quite something. We watched for quite a while. Eventually, it moved on but it was a nice way to wrap up the day. It's not my fowl but it got my attention and I hope it comes back to visit again soon.



Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Day Twenty-Two of Thirty-One: Not My Couch



You know what's strange? Sitting in a house that is empty and doesn't belong to you while two people you don't know bring in a whole bunch of furniture that doesn't belong to you.

"Where would you like this?"
"Um...I guess...here? What do you think?"

I remember sitting in the living room, Janie on one side, Elliot on the other. We just sat there and watched. They put together tables, furniture legs, and unwrapped throw pillows. They even had artwork to put on the walls. I declined. I wasn't really sure if we were allowed to put holes in the walls. 

I felt so lucky and yet so oddly out of place. Here we were in this nice home with furniture to lay our heads on and space to move. We were out of the hotel room and we were excited but at the same time unsettled. 

I think of all the furniture that we lounged on, I miss our couches the most. They were so comfy and I loved wrapping myself up in a blanket and snuggling into the corner. The sofa we are renting right now is a bit hard and not so comfy. It's not my couch but I do enjoy looking out the window while sitting on it.