Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Pain Free: An Emotional Journey

When chronic pain is a near constant companion the emotional journey that accompanies any moments without pain is varied.

Anticipation is the genesis. The feeling of waiting for the shoe to drop, because you can't remember a time when it hasn't. You are certain the pain will start, it is simply a matter of when and at what intensity.

Disbelief follows. It may be at the end of the day, or perhaps the start of the next. You pause, perhaps in bed, realizing that you haven't had to medicate. Or that you actually went an whole day without pain as a companion. Or you wake up aware that you just slept an entire night and woke up either because the alarm went off or, even harder to believe, simply because you were ready to wake up. It wasn't pain that nudged you awake, hallelujah!

Joy follows. Wow! A day and/or night without pain! So much to be thankful for. You better have a smile on your face and a spring in your step because these moments are precious and fleeting.

The next emotion I struggle to put a name to. Pressure? It is the notion of feeling that you must use the pain free time to its utmost. The feeling that you have to get x, y, and z accomplished, while you can.

This feeling goes hand in hand with a sense of being torn - torn between wanting to be extra productive and wanting to just be - to kick back and take moments for what they are.

While you are trying to ignore angst of the previous two emotions a thought occurs to you. "Is this what 'normal' people feel like?" Is this what a pain free life is like? I could get used to this!

Analysis. What have I done differently? What do I need to continue to do (or not do) to see if this trend can continue?

This cycle may be moments or hours. If it lasts for days, pinch yourself. Whatever you do, don't do what I did. Don't say anything about it out loud.

Recently days have been strung together, days that don't include pain. I have been through all of the above emotions - several cycles for many of them. Last week I heard myself telling someone how my new medications and lifestyle changes are really helping. How I had been pain free for a little while. As I heard the words coming out of my mouth I thought, "Uh-oh. Have I just jinxed it?!"

I don't really belief in luck or jinxes, but it all seems too good to be true so why not throw the concept of fate in there as well? Then my mother-in-law asked how I was doing. When I hung up the phone I had a feeling my moments were numbered.

Sure enough, within hours, the emotional cycle got the opportunity to go back to the beginning. Well, before the beginning. Now I am waiting for the drugs to work.

Friday, May 26, 2017

She's 8!

As you turn eight I think back over your year of being seven, wanting to take a few moments to mark the occasion. The biggest thing I will remember about your being seven is that it was the year you went from calling me primarily "Mommy" to just as often, (if not predominantly) calling me "Mom". When you were little there were times you would utter "Mom", almost like you were trying it on. You would then discard it, as if it didn't quite fit. I knew the day would come and I still treasure the "Mommy"ies that are scattered throughout your language, all too aware that they are fleeting.

You continue to be enamored by words. This year that has meant a huge increase in writing everything; lists, ideas, plans, agendas, apology notes, texts (complete with emojis) - all of this as well as stories and information text and opinion pieces. Books are still constantly around us, most recently you have checked out a Star Wars recipe book and Harry Potter, so you can read it yourself (which you sometimes read softly to yourself, outloud, with accents!)

Last summer you had a pretty typical summer, for you; Sealth, Seabeck, Hi-Liners, and camping. You also got to go to Sound View. The summer you were seven is marked by being the summer you mastered building a fire, log cabin style, on your own.

You started making lunch for our family on Fridays. This is pretty cool! You generally make sandwiches and include fruit and veggies as well as something to drink. You then clean up the kitchen.Your other chores include setting the table, clearing your place, and putting your dishes in the dishwasher throughout the day. When you help cook or bake, washing dishes in the sink comes with the territory. In order to celebrate your birthday, this week you made the brownies for Brownies and the cupcakes for your class.

With a pool outside our door (and another two to choose from, depending on the position of the sun and which friends you are going to swim with) it is no surprise you have turned into a fish. In addition to swimming around for fun or completing laps, you can also be seen diving to the bottom to retrieve anything that might find its way down there, treading water, being tossed around by Daddy or a friend's dad, swimming underwater without goggles, keeping the little ones entertained, squirting jets of water, or diving off the edge.

Christmas included a week at Whistler where you loved learning how to downhill ski. You keep telling me you are ready for another ski vacation. Spring Break was a bunch warmer than Christmas and included a few days in Bangkok before we spent a week and a half in Myanmar. You and Grandma Cathy shared a room and all four of us enjoyed the adventures. Earlier in the year we went to Ethiopia for Hajj break. You take traveling in stride and it makes planning adventures easy, so we'll keep doing it!

A stage, be it in your room by yourself, the living room with guests, or the big stage in the auditorium - they are all places you love to perform. Your love of musical theater has especially grown this year; Hamilton, A Chorus Line, Cats, The Music Man, and Carousel are your biggest favorites at the moment. You absolutely nailed your solo (with Daddy accompanying you on the piano) of "Gary Indiana" at the Talent Show on your ultimate day of being seven. Dancing is part of what you love to perform as well, and Dance Club has afforded you several opportunities throughout the year.

Exercising your creativity and design thinking have been areas you have developed this year as well. Maker Space became a thing for you and often your room (and the downstairs as often as you could get away with it) overflowed with your creations.

I love you and can't wait to see what eight brings!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Fresh Look

The sports banquet is tonight. We don't have time to get home and back, so we spend the time at school. My husband's time seems to fill with meetings. Assessments are scattered across my desk, among open resources for tweaking my teaching plans to fit what I have learned about my students today. When after school activities finish my daughter joins me. She asks if we can read.

"Of course!" is my response as I arrange the pillows for us to snuggle up. She grabs Intersteller Cinderella. As soon as I close that book she scampers off to grab Ida Twist, Scientist. I close that book, she pauses with a content smile on her face, and then is off to pluck Iggy Peck, Architect.

"Would you like to re-read it to yourself?" I ask, trying to get a bit more work accomplished.

She returns with Spoon as her response.

"Let's go see how things are looking in the gym." I suggest as I need to get some movement in before we sit all evening. When we return to my room, after oohing and ahhing over the decorations she pauses and looks around my room.

"You have SO many books!"

"Doesn't every classroom have lots of books?" 

"But yours are really good books!"

I smiled as she went about rediscovering things in my room and I worked through some more stacks on my desk. My smile was because she's right. I do have good books. I work hard to ensure that I do. It's fun to watch her develop as a reader and notice these things for herself. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Not Ninja Day

There is a tournament at our school this weekend. One of the ways we are preparing is by having a spirit week. Sunday we all wore our pajamas, which is an added bonus on Mother's Day. Yesterday was Meme Monday, which elicited quite a bit of dialogue to figure out what the high schoolers meant. Today is Twin Tuesday.

As a teacher who is concerned about the community of people in my classroom, I never have a twin day in which I don't announce what I am wearing so anyone is free to join me. This alleviates people feeling left out because no one invited them to be a twin with them. In the last few years I have encouraged my classes to make it a whole class thing, which is fun. Last Thursday we discussed what each day would be and when we got to Twin Day. I let the class decide what we would wear. The consensus? All black.

"Fun! We can sneak around and have a ninja day."

"Oh! I can borrow the eye part from my mom."

It only took me one beat to realize that I had to put a kibosh on Ninja Day.

It isn't that I am a party pooper. It isn't that I am against added fun for our day, in fact I have a BreakoutEDU planned. If I lived in the States a Ninja Day could be really fun, but I don't. I live here. Ninja eye masks, borrowed from moms, could be seen as highly insensitive. So, we are all wearing all black. We are sneaking around. We are most certainly NOT having a Ninja Day.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Getting The Ding Fixed

A ding showed up on our windshield. My husband, Jonathan, said it happened while he was driving the 300+ km highway between where we live and Jeddah; a truck threw a rock. It is surprising it hasn't happened to us before as we have plied the highways of the Middle East for a dozen years.

There were a few days between when we got home from Spring Break and Jonathan was to leave for a week. Ideally we would get the ding fixed and wouldn't have to replace the entire windshield. As long as the ding doesn't spread it won't won't impair anyone's line of vision (except the GoPro when we are off roading - sigh). The bits of missing glass are right in the middle, low on the windshield.

We have a colleague who has lived here for a long time and seems to know all things cars. Jonathan inquired as to where one would go to have a ding filled. With GPS coordinates in hand, he headed out.

There are often just windows of time (pun intended) in which to get things done here. Everything closes five times a day for prayer. Thankfully there is an app for that so you can plan your outings. He took all of this into consideration, including what time the taxi was taking him to the airport, and drove across town. He timed it to arrive just before prayer would be finishing. Something about "the best laid plans" and, as is not infrequent, the business chose to not open right away. Jonathan had succeeded in locating the shop, but couldn't talk to anyone, let alone get the work done.

Since I don't get to drive here I asked a friend of ours to take me on the field trip while Jonathan was gone. He and Jonathan chatted about where the shop was and the GPS coordinates were passed along. One evening our daughter went for a playdate and I headed out on the field trip. 

We drove to the shop, explained what we needed (being sure to include gestures and pointing at the ding to aid with any needed translation). As soon as the ding was pointed out the several guys who had gathered around all called for the same man. Emerging from a work area he walked right up to our vehicle, pulled out his tool, and placed a suction cup over the ding.

The friend and I were feeling pretty proud of ourselves for succeeding with so little effort. I am certain we were visibly puffing up with pride. The worker then rotated his wrist and the tool began to draw a circle on the windshield. As the circumferences continued, realization hit, he was CUTTING a circle in the glass around the ding.

As he finished he tapped on the glass, both from the inside and outside, and beaming with a job done quickly and well, sent us on our way.

We drove off in utter shock.

Eventually these thoughts started cycling...
Yup, the ding isn't going to spread across the entire windshield.
I'm pretty sure this isn't what my husband had in mind.

I've never seen anything like it!
How about I don't rush to tell Jonathan about this.
Perhaps we will buy a new windshield.


Monday, May 1, 2017

What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journeys and now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Here are my April books. (As you can deduce from the list, it was a crazy month!)