Gratitude 2014

I wrote a couple of years ago about being grateful, but it’s high time I revisited this destination. It’s imperative for happiness, for perspective.

In the intervening time since that blog post, I’ve lost my mother to Alzheimer’s, my father’s moved into Assisted Living, two of our cats have passed on (Muffin and Frodo), and we’re in the middle of a fight to keep our house (legal battle with the County over Medicaid assistance for Dad).

I painted Mom's nails the day before she died; she always had impeccable nails.

I painted Mom’s nails the day before she died; she always had impeccable nails.

 

 

Frodo, near the end of his illness.

Frodo, near the end of his illness.

 

Muffin

Muffin, my mother’s cat

 

Additionally, I’ve had surgery this year on my foot, keeping me immobile for a long time, then in a walking cast and on a scooter. Health concerns continue, unabated. Financial issues, as with everyone, seem to only worsen.  Justin and I have often thought that 2014 has *not* been our year.

Ouch

Ouch

 

Steve, the Scooter, and Rufus, the Cast

Steve, the Scooter, and Rufus, the Cast

 However, attitude is everything.

While I miss my mother terribly, and Alzheimer’s is the worst disease in the world, as far as I’m concerned (I once heard it described on NPR as a disease in which the victim watches as her own brain is eaten away), she was more than ready to go, and I was fortunate enough to be able to be by her side, holding her hand, as she took her last breath.  She lived a full and happy and interesting life, and left a massive legacy through her teaching.

Dad seems very happy in Assisted Living, and is getting healthier in some ways even as his age is slowly taking away other things.  He’s ninety-one, now, but still enjoying living.

Dad, winning at cards, as usual, at his apartment.

Dad, winning at cards, as usual, at his apartment.

Dad at Thanksgiving, 2014

Dad at Thanksgiving, 2014

 

Dad, Sept. 2014

Dad, Sept. 2014

Dad at Assisted Living at a music concert (his favorite: Stonybrook Band).

Dad at Assisted Living at a music concert (his favorite: Stonybrook Band).

 

Dad this week on Christmas.

Dad this week on Christmas.

We miss Muffin and Frodo immensely, yet we’ve acquired both Pixel and Hershel in the last several months. Part of owning cats is acknowledging that lives are finite, and grief is inevitable.  We do it because the pain is worth it.

Pixel

Pixel

 

Hershel

Hershel

 

Our legal fight is hugely stressful, and we still don’t have final results, yet for the time being we have a roof over our heads and are enjoying our property.  And as Justin and I keep saying, “You, me, and the kitties; that’s all we need.  We can face anything else.” We don’t want to have to, but we can if we need to. Us and the kitties: that’s home.

While the surgery and recovery were problematic, I’m walking and living without the daily excruciating pain that I’d had in my foot for over three years due to arthritis and bone spurs shredding tendons.  Every month, I’m walking easier and easier!

And finances?  Well, hell…that’s just the human condition (unless you’re one of the 1%). We’re both employed. We have a place to live (at least for now, LOL). We have plenty to eat. Everything else is gravy, when you really think about it!

Hershel’s story (written elsewhere) has done a lot to restore my faith in mankind, and to bring back smiles and hope.

Justin and I at a Twins game, 2014

Justin and I at a Twins game, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

My husband is the best person on the planet, in my opinion, and I’m grateful daily to share my life with him. And while we didn’t have snow for Christmas, we did get some the next day…it’s beautiful outside.

 

 

 

Snowblowing.

Snowblowing.

 

Justin, at dinner before an Ike Reilly show in Minneapolis

Justin, at dinner before an Ike Reilly show in Minneapolis

Justin likes coffee.

Justin likes coffee.

 

I love my husband.

I love my husband.

 

Justin with Wednesday Cat.

Justin with Wednesday Cat.

 

Here’s to seeing 2014 out–perhaps none too soon, but maybe I’m giving it a bad rap–and ushering a bright, beautiful, bountiful 2015 in.  

May we all have plenty to be grateful for in the coming year.

 

Outside our front door just now.

Outside our front door just now.

 

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions–for *Teaching*

Yeah, the health-related and personal ones will go elsewhere.  🙂

Educators have a natural “refreshment” break before each new school year, or term, to revisit goals and make adjustments.  New Year isn’t exactly the natural point for such endeavors, but since I haven’t been doing so well with the objectives I set for myself back in August–plus I have some new ones–I may as well start fresh here.

Ah, the sweet smell of optimistic good intentions!

So, first of all, the “I’ve-had-these-on-my-list-and-I-still-need-to-do-better” resolutions:

Grading. I’m still absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of grading and the hours and hours it takes.  I need to not only vow to decrease the time between getting the papers and handing them back with feedback, but find efficient means of doing so.  Perhaps I need to try some different methods–online commenting, peer review, etc.–because I something needs to change.  In 2009, I will try to grade more quickly and also find ways to do it *better*.

Family Contact.  My Principal makes this a priority, and we’re reminded to make contact with parents more often–and I have not done this as well as I could be.  I need to make more contact for the good things, the “wow” moments, the “You won’t believe the cool thing your kid did today!” moments.  I think part of it for me is that I’m far more comfortable with e-mail than telephone; I have a near pathological aversion for telephones and I would be quite happy not even having one, actually, especially in my classroom (I loathe the interruptions).  I know for sure that I would make more contact via e-mail than with phone, so my resolution here is twofold: to face up to my aversion to phones much more often and to make more e-mail contact, as well.

Fewer Stranded Lessons.  There isn’t enough time each day to get through all the lesson, practice, application I want, and there certainly isn’t enough time each school year to do justice to all the strands expected on the state standards.  I know I’m guilty of introducing a concept–usually something grammatical, the next step in making writing more fluent, etc.–and, because of lack of time, realizing days later that the followup for the lesson got lost in the shuffle.  When I come back to it then, it’s nearly like starting over.  I need to find ways of making sure this happens less often–I think I’m doing better this year already, but I haven’t reached my goal just yet.

And, a few new ones that I want to incorporate into my teaching:

Web2.0 Advancement. Ah, yes…I can hear the echo of this one reverberating off thousands of teachers’ walls across the country as we speak.  The big catch-phrase of 2008-2009 (at least where I’m from–we may be a bit behind the trends, being where we are, which isn’t always a bad thing as at least the trends have to take substantial hold before we get to them).  And yes, I am wholeheartedly signing on.  Not because I think the tools are ends in and of themselves, but because I think they’re great tools.  If the tools open up the world, if the tools help kids connect–both with text and with others, if the tools allow different perspectives, if the tools bring delight and efficiency to learning, then I want to use them.  I want to spice up old plans, I want to shift and expand and view lessons through different lenses.  Kids up out of their desks more often.  I want to see the love of discovery–something I’ve decried the lack of for years–and if these tools can help with that, I want ’em.