Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Jackanapes

My favorite Jackanape!
I am a zookeeper, y'all! I specialize in Jackanapes.

The particular species I am currently keeping are the adolescent jackanapes. These are tricky critters, especially when they are socializing with others of their kind. The males are extremely physically social, touching and rough housing with all varieties of their kind. The males suggest the behaviors are friendly through smiles and call of laughter. The female jackanapes are rumored to negatively socialize with other females of the clan, ONLY when not observed. This indicates to this scientist that they are quite capable of reasonable thought. Now if we could train both male and female jackanapes to use their powers for Good!

I like my job. I used to love it when the jackanapes were pre-adolescent. The genuine curiosity of the world and their peers. Their honest desire for training and attention. I hear the infant jackanapes are even sweeter in nature. Mayhap I should transfer to a new zoo.

BTW, I asked my four-year-old nephew what it was that his Aunt J-Me does for a living. He responded without hesitation and with complete seriousness, "My Aunt J-Me teacher the kids at the school." That baby boy is the cutest Jackanape I know!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for Inspiration

Reading before bed used to be my wind-down. I would escape the reality of the day and go on an adventure of the mind. More recently, I have joined millions of other escapees in the world of Pinterest instead.

Pin, pin, pin, I snag everything I see, leaving myself imbued with inspiration for how I will cook, crochet, craft, and clean my way through weekends, holidays, and summer vacation. If I had a dollar every time I gave advice that began, "I saw something on Pinterest that said..." I might be able to afford the materials for all the fun to be had.

Aunt J-Me's Top 10 Pins to Try:
  1. Fire starters for camping
  2. Laundry room make over
  3. Pool-side towel rack for camping
  4. Banana Pudding Poke Cake
  5. Pizza Grilled Cheese
  6. Glow in the Dark Path
  7. Tiered Planter with House Number
  8. Sign for my classroom door
  9. Crochet Parasol
10. Necktie Quilt

Share your favorite Pinterest find in the comments!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for Howdy


a question we all answer "fine"
native understanding
less formal, we respond "good" or "okay"
hurly burly whoops

Wikipedia states, "Howdy is an informal greeting, commonly thought to have originated as a shortened form of the greeting "How do you do?" It was first recorded as part of the Southern U.S. dialect in 1840. Literature from that period includes the use of "How-do, how-do" as a greeting used by Native Americans when addressing Anglo settlers in greeting. The double form of the idiom is still found in parts of Texas as "Howdy, howdy". Without regard to etymological beginnings, the word is used as a greeting such as "Hello" and not, normally, as an inquiry."

Monday, April 8, 2013

G is, and always will be, for Gayla

Gayla's adventure in Mexico just two
weeks before she was gone. I always find it
ironic that I worried for her safety there, and she
was at home heading for a pedicure when we lost her.
I dream of Gayla at least once a week now. Sometimes we are back in college as roommates; mostly she has a cameo at the end of whatever drama my brain is working through. No matter the dream, I beeline for sister and tackle her in a hug, much like I did when she would come home from school when we were little girls, sharing a bedroom on Ellen.

It has been a little more than two years since that distracted truck driver took Gayla from us. I genuflect and thank God she did not suffer. Then I shake my fist and scream in agony, "WHY!?!"

Sister on the night of her
20th High School Reunion

Grief is bipolar like that. In the same instant that I am thankful for all He provides, I will stomp my
feet and feel the surge of CRAZY that wants to escape and pummel all that played a part in my beloved sister's demise. If it weren't for my 'Rents, Hubby Dearest, and Darling Daughter (and the 70 kiddos who expect me to teach them each day), I would allow this grief to suck me in. However, Gayla would be angry at that so I soldier on. I occasionally let the crazy hang out for a minute or two and pretend Sister's stay in witness protection will end soon and life will be good again.

February 1975, one of our first pictures together

February 2011, our last picture together

Saturday, April 6, 2013

F is for Finger Paint

It's spring in Texas so you better enjoy these fabulous two weeks when the fulgent sun doesn't turn your backyard into the 80s version of the easy bake oven. Each afternoon, I emerge from my classroom with no windows and want to embrace that radiant globe by doing something child-like. Today I chose to ... FINGER PAINT! What do you do to embrace your inner kiddo?

Friday, April 5, 2013

E is for Equality

Have you ever stopped to really look at and ponder the words, "We are all equal in the eyes of God"? He created each of us as uniquely as snowflakes. No two of us are the same, but He loves us all just the same. There is an empyrean home in heaven waiting for each of us. This is all good parenting on His part.

We, His children, however, are not being good brothers and sisters in this family. We are not spreading His lessons of love to all of our siblings. We are not treating each other has He treats us...equally. I am just as bad and wayward as they come when it comes to the word "HATE."

I have been finding myself, more and more, saying, "I hate _______." For instance, I hate DOMA. I hate that my best friends who are committed to one another cannot fully rest in the security of the more than 1,200 rights under the law that my husband and I are afforded because we are married. I hate that the fear our society puts into our youths keeps some battened down in the proverbial closets choosing lives of loneliness or denial. I ate that the students in the halls at school use, "that's so gay" as a pejorative for everything. I hate that there is no zero tolerance rule for the offenders. I hate that school-aged children take their own lives because they can't see a life without abuse in their future. I ate that hate is winning a popularity contest in our government. I hate that people I know and love would hate me if I were gay. I HATE HATE!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for Dictionary

"MISS!" bellowed the student sitting next to the shelf with forty, neatly-stacked, never-been-touched dictionaries. "How do you spell (insert a word I probably could spell but maybe not)?"

"D-I-C-T-I-O-N-A-R-Y," I respond.

"Wait, ________ doesn't start with a 'D', Miss. What are you spelling?"


Student number two, who isn't impressed with my joke helps his peer, "She is spelling dictionary. She wants you to look it up."

"Miss, you're silly! I'll just use my phone to look it up," student one said.

I can't blame them. I cannot spell because I grew up in the birth of spell check and auto correct. When I graduated from high school, the high-stakes test said that my spelling was on par with a 7th grader. I am intelligent. Heck, I am one of the most educated people I know, and I read constantly. I cannot, however, remember if appreciate gets one P or two and apologize was misspelled in this blog before I hit spellcheck.

Growing up, a paper and ink dictionary was not where I went to check spelling. It was the prop in a self-created game I liked to play. I would thumb through the pages, stop on a page, and pick a word. I'd practice that word (i.e. deliquesce, a verb meaning to become liquid by absorbing moisture from the air; example: You can't help but deliquesce into a puddle from the heat and humidity in Texas during the summer.). Then I would impress others with my advanced vocabulary. Too bad I couldn't remember the spelling of my fancy-pants word of the day.

What is your "fake-it-till-you-make-it" talent?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Camping

The cacophony (noun meaning harsh, jarring sound) of thunder rattled through the campgrounds this past weekend, and yet I was not bothered. Water soaked into my last pair of dry shoes and pants, yet I was happy as a lark. I was camping! Well, sorta camping...with the 'Rents' new PUMA, it's more like bringing the house with you for an extended picnic. Beds, central heat, refrigerators, and air conditioning make camping these days quite a bit more pleasant than the tent pitching of yester year.

I do have to say though, one of the best camping trips I can remember was the year Daddy bought me my own pup tent and I could have my own space...less than 10 feet from the big tent, just in case. Another memorable trip would be in 2000 when sister, brother, sil, and I slept in the bed of Gayla's truck on a beach in Corpus. Sister-in-law taught us the Girl Scout way of making hot dogs in the sand and baking biscuits in a box (sand in every mouthful). There was also the year when I was beginning school that we lived at the creek in a trailer...Mama or Daddy had to check outside the camper for snakes before we could get in the car to head to school.

Skipping rocks and trout fishing at Bull Shoals. Owls on a string of lights. The ten different ways the Good Sams could take Christmas lights and solo cups to make a Red Neck Chandelier. Hot dogs on the fire, s'mores for dessert, and trying to teach Sosie how to cook over an open flame. Some of my happiest memories happened around a camp fire.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B is for Brother


James II has been there through it all...poor guy!
Jesse just joined the fun!

God gave me one brother when I was almost three years old; He led me to find the others over time. One by blood, two by marriage, and two by the love in my heart. I am blessed with all of these men...most days! On the other days, I am bombasted with bumptious (adjective meaning disagreeable) picking and teasing that would make you think I grew up with them all making blanket forts in the living room and fighting over who gets the last roll at dinner. Most importantly, I know they all love me. I know that I am blessed by brothers.

Gayla with Mike and Jeremy, brothers of my heart.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Scarlet Letter

I can remember my sister Gayla telling me when we were in high school that she had read the first book that she ever liked...The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn. When we were young 20-somethings, I can remember she told me she loved the movie even though it was a complete off-road trek from the book (I think it was the sex/love scene). For some reason, I did not ever read Hawthorn-man's opus, but recently, I got sucked into the movie. HARD PASS if you are thinking this is a review. From what I read online the book is depressing as all get out. The movie wraps everything up into a nice, little, flower-covered package. Blah on both!

With the "Blogging from A to Z Challenge" in mind, I decided that the first post for the letter A should be about about the crimson letter A that philandering Hester had to don on her person for Adultery. For the standard definition of adultery, make note of where I stand. IF YOU ARE MARRIED OR COMMITTED TO ANOTHER PERSON, THEN YOU DO NOT LET ANOTHER INTO YOUR HEART OR YOUR BRITCHES. No shades of gray's black and white. Be faithful. Be a man or woman of your word and honor your commitment. 

Still this is not where I wanted to go with this post. Being the mother of a teen, I have spent the last few years worrying and stressing over the message to provide Darling Daughter when it comes to sexual relationships outside and before marriage. The first couple of years of her curiosity I spent teaching her the biology of her body and the hormones engulfing her senses. For added measure, I stressed the part about sexually transmitted diseases. 

When she approached the relationship years, DD's father and I added an addendum, "Who you love is up to you; just make sure you have a connection of the heart and the mind." Now that we are in the really scary years, the mama in my heart wants to tell her, "No sex without marriage!" Since reality and history tell me this is naive, uneducated and...duh!...hypocritical, my pearl of wisdom is, "Be a kid as long as you can. When you add sex to a relationship, it takes it to a level of intensity that you're just not ready for yet."

I am blessed by this wonderful young woman whom I call Daughter. She has the maturity and wisdom of someone twice her age on this front. She asks questions. I give her the real, straightforward answers, sometimes leaving her wishing that I pulled a few punches every now and again. I say a prayer of thanks every day that she comes to me for straight talk about the most serious (and sometimes silly) issues. I pray that I haven't screwed her up too much. I beg God to let us always have this open relationship. And to make sure I am not too far off base, I scour the earth for articles, books, etc. about parenting teens on sex. 

For straightforward, teen-speak information, I can recommend the Scarleteen web site. I look at the teens I teach each day and see that some of them have no Mama-J at home with whom they can have truthful and frank discussions about sex, and this site is an information explosion attacking the issue of youths and sex in the most honest way. Check out their philosophy here.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

ABC Blogging in April--Year Three

Join the Challenge by clicking on the pic!
 Nope! Contrary to the wildest imaginations out there, I have not, in fact, been abducted by aliens, unless you count the hormone-saturated pre-adults that I have been trying to force-feed an education into for the last seven months. I have missed blogging. In truth, each Sunday I tell myself I will pry my "second face" from the sofa, put down the clicker, and stop watching Pitch Perfect for the millionth time so I can get to my computer and blog about the epiphany I am having at that moment. Take a look to see how many times I listened to my inner voice. I ignore her as much as my Darling Daughter ignores me asking her to empty the dishwasher.

RECAP SINCE AUGUST: Found out at the last possible minute I would be returning to teaching (reading at the high school level); Hubby Dearest traveled to NYC A-FREAKING-LOT for his job, which was tough when he broke his ankle playing rec-league hockey in October; Darling Daughter started and finished her second season in youth hockey and is now ready to get her first job and attend driving school; Mama and Daddy bought a camper "for the grandkids" (wink wink); Dr. Meanie bragged on me for getting to the gym with "some" regularity and for not having bronchitis in the past 14 months; Took the family to LA in August and NYC in March; found out two weeks ago that I am not being laid off but am being re-assigned to another campus for next year (last one in, first one out). I am sure there is a ton more but I can hear "the Rif off" about to start.

So here's the skinny...the challenge that got me into blogging is going to bring me back to my favorite past time...writing! A to Z Blogging Challenge. Come join the fun. Sign up on the website (follow) the link from the picture above. Then blog and post each day in April. You skip the Sundays (or use them to play catch up). The only rule is that you blog according to the letter of the alphabet for that day...April 1 is A, April 2 is B, you get the rest I hope. I have a week to get my writing list in some sort of order. It's going to take planning to stay on target  this year. Can't wait to read what everyone is thinking!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Supply and Demand

Econ 101...if there is a high demand, there will be suppliers to meet that demand. Gun control mandates or not, if the people demand violence, then there will be someone to supply it. We need a culture change, not a change in constitution. People kill people so let's change our people. Where better to start than with our children.

We can all point a finger (or ten) at all the causes we want to blame. Blame games are easy. How about we teach our children to take responsibility for their own feelings and their own actions. We need to teach them to roll with the punches and to rebound from disappointments. We need to demand that violence not be our entertainment, our last resort, or, for that matter, our first resort. We need to demand that our families be healthy environments to nurture and grow our future generations.

Provide our children love, responsibility, education, and support for their dreams. When they ask "why?" find out the answer if you don't know, and answer their questions. Whatever you do, don't resort to "Because I said so." That doesn't honor them nor does it build their trust. Even if the answer isn't ribbons and bows and puppy dog tails, tell the truth and teach your children the difference between right and wrong and the shades of color in between. If we demand only the best of them, then they will supply us beyond our imaginations.