SARcasm











{October 15, 2013}   Thanks-Giving

The bad news over the last 3 weeks is that I have been far too busy to blog. The good news is, a lot of what has kept me busy the last few weeks has been good stuff – family and friends, busy-ness professionally etc. But I have struggled to see that. The work I try to do on mindfulness and gratitude has been a bit of a failure. Instead of seeing ‘look, I worked every day last week, which means professional contacts, professional fulfillment and yes, money,’ for example, I saw ‘OMG when am I ever going to get my marking done and clean my house?’. And then, along comes Thanksgiving weekend. And there is nothing like fun and uninterrupted time with one’s family on beautiful fall days to remind you that even – and perhaps especially – in the midst of the crazy, there are so many blessings to be found.

So – at the risk of sounding like one of those obnoxious folks bragging about how wonderful their life is in the midst of others who might be struggling – I would like to take the time to practice some thankfulness and awareness that there are two sides to everything … and that perhaps Thanksgiving (even a bit belatedly) is a good time to look at the brighter one. So – despite my grumbling at times the last few weeks – I am thankful for …

  • Babysitters! And family who enjoy sharing in the freedom of sitters!
  • My family and friends – never before in my life have I felt so surrounded by loving and supportive people, and been so aware of it. It brings me great joy.
  • Especially my little foursome here – we’ve all of us had some cranky, tired, and some ‘just get us through the day’ moments over the last three busy, sick, tired weeks, (illness, new teachers, changing schedules with me working etc.) but I also realize a lot of it is a sign of new growth, new learning, new phases, and we have all been growing TOGETHER as a team … and that’s a cool feeling. And I am thankful that we are a family of strong people with minds of our own, even our littlest ones.
  • Fulfilling work! I am so happy being reminded each and every week why I do what I do at my church, how helpful eLearning is to my students, and even the supply teaching river has been flowing a bit more fully this year (a HUGE part of the busy-ness). It’s been busy, but it has been fun, challenging, aggravating, wonderful, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
  • Health. Between all of us, we have spent two of the last three weeks ill, and it is absolutely amazing to have finally shaken off the bug and to have a home full of healthy people again.
  • The lessons of patience. There is a particular, and very important, phonecall I have been expecting for a week now, and am still waiting. And while I perhaps dislike the suspense, I realize time passing might be a good thing, to teach me patience and to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone.
  • Special occasions. Thanksgiving is such a wonderful and inspiring holiday, and with Halloween and two of my three boys’ birthdays coming up, and the Holidays not far behind, here begins a few of the happiest months of my year … cheer in the cold of fall and winter.

Whether you are in a time of peace and comfort, or struggling at this moment – or perhaps, as so often in life, a blessed and difficult mix of both – what are YOU thankful for?

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{June 7, 2013}   RIP Mr. Muller

I first want to say there’s not much I can say about Roland Muller that my friend Anne at the Belle Jar Blog didn’t say here. But as Rolland Muller passed away last night at the age of 70 years old, and I say goodbye to one of the greatest teachers I have ever had, I couldn’t resist putting a few words of my own out into the universe. He, after all, loved and encouraged writing.

First of all, I have to express that when I say Rolley was ‘one of the best teachers I’ve had’, I don’t say that lightly. I have been truly blessed through my life in the teachers whose classrooms I have sat in. Mme. M made me feel like less of an outcast at a school where I was bullied mercilessly … Mme. L was the first teacher to challenge me and not give me a free pass just because I was a smart little snot and I knew it … Mr. C and Ms. C inspired my interest in politics (and my bleeding heart) … Mr. H single-handedly prepared me for the university essay … and that’s just scratching the surface. In that sense, Mr. Muller is one of many in terms of teachers who’ve had an amazing influence on my life; but that doesn’t take away that he was also one of a kind. From his lifelong dedication to Eastwood – ‘our’ high school – first as a student, and then as a teacher, to his singular way of making every student feel special … so old-school and stern in some ways, yet so modern and with a wicked sense of humour … one of a kind.

And what amazes me is how universal my feelings are when it comes to Rolley. I think of what I want to say about him … he made me feel special, he encouraged my hopes and dreams, especially insofar as writing, theatre etc. were involved … he was approachable, dedicated, and ‘just got it’. And yet, as I see my former school’s Facebook pages today, and the Facebook pages of fellow former students, these feelings were shared, to a person, by everone whose life he touched. And can you imagine a teacher who makes every student they come in contact with – 200+ students a year, every year, for 35, 40 years? – feel that way? He is a big part of the reason I want to do what I do. If I can touch half the lives he has in my career as a teacher, I will consider that a job well done and a life well lived.

Rolland Muller … who just a month before his passing on was still expressing his pride in my gr. 9 Romeo and Juliet project fifteen years after the fact … who taught me Greek Legends and Shakespeare … who in later years painted the first home my husband and I purchased (despite thinking us crazy for wanting a bright, canary yellow bathroom) … He will be missed sorely in the Eastwood community, by his students and colleagues, and by all those who he inspired. “Goodnight, Sweet Prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

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Myself and Rolland Muller – Apr. 2013.



I just read the following article over at ThinkProgress (good folks, by the way):

Call To Ban ‘Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl’ Prompts Sensible Response From Michigan School.

And I have just two thoughts to throw out there.

  1. If in reading this book about a young Jewish girl hiding with her family during the Holocaust, who ultimately didn’t survive, the most objectionable and difficult material for the parent in question in the above article to absorb consists of Anne Frank’s thoughts and observations of her body’s progress through puberty/adolescence etc., then she really is missing the forest for the trees. And …
  2. Whatever material we might find difficult, uncomfortable, worthy of oversight and ‘parental guidance’ – be it sexuality, war, violence, or a little old thing like genocide – I can’t drive home enough that the answer is not ban, hide, ignore, head-in-the-sand-ism. Your children, in the course of their lives, are going to learn about all of the above and then some, whether you like it or not. And whatever values you wish to instill in them – non-violence, patriotism, abstinence, bigotry, inclusiveness – are not best instilled by ignorance, but by frank and honest awareness and discussion, lest – for better or worse – they stumble upon this material and (gasp! horror!) develop their own opinions on it anyway.

BOTTOM LINE:

Whether you wish to participate in, or nay, even control, your child’s education, the answer is not  to prevent their education, but to educate yourself so that you can help, participate, advocate. We don’t owe our children ignorance – we owe them frank, honest lessons and as much knowledge and wisdom as we can cram into their heads. Lest they, too, grow up one day thinking the answer to ‘I don’t like that’ is to hide it forever from public view.



I can’t even begin to process my thoughts on this tragedy today, in which a gunman left 26 people – 20 grade school students – dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT. There’s not much I know. There’s not much I can even imagine.

I can’t imagine, first and foremost, as a parent, getting that horrific phonecall.

I can’t imagine, as a teacher, having to face that situation and remain calm, despite having participated in numerous lockdown drills over the years.

I can’t imagine those whose first priority is heading into defensive mode over the ‘gun rights’ that have gone way too far in the United States.

As un-politically correct as this might sound, I can’t fathom, when the gunman ultimately killed himself, why on Earth he had to take 26 others with him on this death spiral. I know this lacks such depths of the Christian empathy and compassion I struggle to embrace, but I have no patience for people who insist on dragging others – innocent others, completely uninvolved in their own personal tragedy – down with them. I have tried to consider and pray for compassion today -for understanding that for this person to commit such inhumane acts his own pain, his own derangement, must have been so great … I am not there. I’m not sure if the world is there.

I do, however, know a few things.

I do know that the discussion about guns in the United States needs to change. Period. That is not politicizing a tragedy. That is ensuring a tragedy does not occur in vain. If this is not ‘the time to discuss it’, then when? And on this day of all days, when in stark contrast to this mass murder, there was a similar mass attack at an elementary school in China. Similar numbers of casualties come up in that case – 22. However, the weapon in the China incident was a knife. The number of casualties actually dead as opposed to wounded? Zero. These are cold hard facts in regards to gun violence. Yes, “guns don’t kill people, crazy people kill people”, in the tactful and tasteful words of Richard Dawkins today. However, crazy people with guns kill more people than crazy people with knives. Those kids in China will no doubt be traumatized by their experiences; but they at least get to go home and hug their parents, have some hope of working through it. They get to live. And anyone who thinks their right to own a gun trumps a kindergartener’s right to attend school safely is themselves in some serious need of introspection in terms of their values.

I also know that I believe in the words of Fred Rogers:  “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster’, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” I look forward to the stories of those who saved lives, those who helped, those who are reaching out to these families. Through all this, may we recognize those who deserve to be recognized, and may their names stay with us long after that of the perpetrator of this evil act.

Lastly – and this might seem small in the wake of all the tragedy, but it bears remembering – let’s remember that the most vulnerable victims here are small children, most not even in the double digits of age. To see, just hours after what I am assuming is the most traumatic experience any (most) have faced in their young lives, reporters interviewing third graders about the tragedy at their school just makes my stomach turn a little. Again … I know it seems small … but please. Let’s not buy into whatever media hype and spin is about to come of this. Let’s let these kids process this and heal in peace, while we focus on the important issues here – comforting the families directly affected while taking a big picture view on issues like gun control, mental health, school security, etc., to at least ensure SOMETHING can come of this, as cold comfort as it might be. And that does not come in the form of the sensation a frightened little 8-year-old might cause with her firsthand eyewitness account of this shooting.

May God provide comfort and healing to all those affected by this tragedy, and may those mere mortals among us – particularly those who make our laws – who are actually in a position to do something about it here and now, please do so.

Hug your children close tonight. XO



et cetera