Friday, April 25, 2014

A Teacher's Legacy

As a teacher, I always hoped that I would make a difference in the lives of children, and I always felt that that would be my legacy to the world.  I made meaningful memories, I gave time and attention, and I put in 100 per cent effort.  A huge part of that came from my parents, but a portion of it came from a very special teacher who passed away recently.

In the ninth grade, I was mousy, quiet, and incredibly shy.  I was a good student, but socially I was awkward, despite a small group of close friends.  After about a month of school, my best friend begged me to join the Air Force Junior ROTC program at the school.  The program was at an all-time low for recruitment, and without enough students they would have to close.  

After a frustrated artist ripped my attempt at gradation into two pieces, I went to guidance, who told me there were no available classes during that time slot.  When I told her there was a spot in ROTC, she tried everything to convince me not to join--and I'm certain she was part of the problem in regards to the numbers.  Ignoring her advice was possibly the best decision I made in my entire high school career.

I excelled in ROTC--where there was order, and a chain of command, and specific jobs to perform.  It was a place where I could finally figure out how to be myself, in that sea of uniformity, but it wasn't until adulthood that I realized that the instructors, Major and Sarge, were the reason.  Major was a short, round-bellied little man with a combover and a mini-mustache.  He passed away this Easter Sunday, causing a flood of memories to come rushing back, along with an adult's appreciation of his dedication.  It was easy to think of him at the time as goofy and funny; but looking back now, he drove from New Hampshire to South of Boston every single day to make a place where a bunch of misfits could fit in, and thrive, and he did it for 16 years.  

There were life lessons.  I remember one day Major asked me what I did that weekend, and I said my Dad had come to take me to McDonald's, and "not anywhere special."  Major read me the riot act.  My Dad had driven down from Middleton, an hour and a half drive without traffic,just to see me, and a lot of divorced Dads didn't bother to see their kids, period.  I never forgot that conversation, and never thought about my Dad's visits the same way again.

There were conversations with my Mom, who knew I had an anxiety disorder, so I couldn't eat in public.  Whenever we went away on encampments I was subtly checked on, and it was impressed upon me that I needed to eat to make it through the obstacle course or orienteering or whatever activity that was planned that day.  

He pushed me to apply for higher and higher positions, until I was commanding his squadron in my senior year.  He made sure I applied for a scholarship, and that year four of us received ROTC scholarships.  I ultimately turned mine down, for many different reasons, but Major did more to encourage me to pursue life after high school than my guidance counselor ever did.  

I volunteered after high school, for a few years, and in 1998, 8 years after I graduated, I invited him and his wife to my wedding (to another alumnus.)  Sadly, a few years later, I lost track of him--after I had kids.  I have to hope that he knew the great impact he had upon his students.  My Facebook news feed is full of sad comments, but good ones too--about how much he meant to them, and how much he changed the course of their lives.  

Here's to you, Major.  Thank you for your dedication, for your effort, and your attention.  I can only hope that one day my legacy will be as great as yours.

Photo credit:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rose Goes To The River (Or, How A Toddler Travels)

Rose loves to go for walks.
First she puts on her shoes.
Then she puts on her sweater.
Mom wants to take Rose to see the water.

Rose wants to see this rock.  

Rose plays on the rock for a bit, then Mom says, "Come on, Rose, let's go see the water."
Rose wants to play on this tree stump.

Mom lets her play for a few minutes, then says, "Come on, Rose, let's go see the water."
Rose wants to practice stepping on and off the curb.  

Mom lets her practice for a while, then says, "Come on, Rose, let's go see the water."
They finally see the water, the river rushing by beneath them. Rose likes the river, but now she wants to check out this rock again.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ahhhh Sunshine!

I love when it's warm enough that even I will venture outside.  Today we took the kids to the local park trail, and we got some much-needed fresh air and sunshine. 

While we were there, it kept occurring to me that there are lots of great photos of the kids & Coffeeguy:

...and even some great pics of the local wildlife:

....but not so much of me.  When I die they'll look for pictures for the slide show and they'll find none, because I'm always behind the camera.  I tried taking a "selfie":

...but my arms are so short that I couldn't get much of the background!

Are you the photographer in your family? I am thinking of hiring someone so we can all be in a few pictures together!

Disney DTs

Last year was the first year since 2008 that I haven't gone to either Disneyland, Disney World, or on a Disney Cruise at least once.  (I even went to Disneyland when I was pregnant with Rose, and while I had to miss all my favorite wild rides, I STILL had a blast.)  Since she was a new baby and I was having such a hard time breastfeeding, I was a little sad about not going last year, but I knew it wasn't feasible and I had consoled myself with the thought that someday we would return.

I should mention here, before we went in 2008, I thought all those Disney Disney Disney people were nuts.  I had gone twice, and had had meh experiences both times (the first one because I was there with extended family and I am a nuclear kind of gal, and the second one because it was two weeks after my father died and I was in the early stages of pregnancy, and my sole purpose for being there was to take my rather ungrateful niece to the bathroom.  We also had stayed off-site both times, and my experiences have shown me that that will never happen again.) Anyhoo, I digress.  That 2008 trip was everything I ever wanted in a vacation.  It was in CA, where Coffeeguy has relatives, so we got to visit; it was in CA, 'nuff said; and it was my first vacation in 10 years.  It was also shortly after I was diagnosed with celiac disease, and let me tell you, Disney knows how to feed an allergic guest!! I carried boxes of Imodium "just in case" because my experiences with eating "gluten free" at restaurants were not encouraging.  I worried that if either have to starve or my stomach would pay the price for cross-contamination.  But no...Disney's chefs emailed me back & forth, and they had a gluten free meal for me at every restaurant where I had a reservation--and some I didn't! It was paradise.  I got to eat delicious meals and then go enjoy the park, without fear of having to stop every ten feet because a crumb got into my food! All of my food at the buffet was prepared separately in the back, and they even made me gluten free Mickey Mouse waffles that were to die for.  
Add to this the fact that my then-5 year old boy got to walk around the park in a fairy costume and not one cast member batted an eyelash, and my then-7 year old daughter got to take on Darth Vader at Jedi Training, and it was easily the best vacation I have ever been on.

Now, back to the DTs.  I had hoped to use my tax returns for a trip this year.  Rose is 15 months old now, but would be closer to two, and she adores Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and absolutely can't get enough of Wendy & Peter Pan.  My older two are 13 and 11, and the time when a family trip will cease being a bonding experience is fast approaching.  I feel like now would be the perfect time to take a short trip to WDW, to get me out of this withdrawal stage!  Alas, Coffeeguy doesn't seem to be on the same page.  While our tax returns were healthy (thank you, Rose, my beautiful little tax deduction), we do have to get our second car back on the road--which still leaves some money, but maybe not quite as much as we'd hoped.  I vote for a short trip (though we are adamantly against value hotels with a little one due to the long bus ride) in a moderate hotel, and if we include the meal plan we won't have to worry about gluten free foods or bringing money for dinners.  

Maybe that's not reasonable, but this mama is dying to see Rose's reaction to the Happiest Place On Earth!