Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wake Up Call

Every December I look forward to an early Saturday morning wake up call thanks to the Shop With a Cop program. This morning was that morning. At about 6:30 a.m. for the past seventeen years I have been awakened by the sound of continuous police sirens as local officers make their way from our town's K-Mart to our community's ever-growing Festival of Lights display. Beside them sit eager children who have been identified as being in need of local support, who without the community, would have no Christmas. The thought of a young child sitting in the seat next to a uniformed officer in a warm cruiser with reds and blues flashing and sirens blaring, puts that proverbial lump in my throat every year. I can't help but feel fortunate that our house sits right in the middle of their route. It is truly a magnificent sight (and sound) to behold.

The following day I like to read the accounts in the newspaper. How in the midst of their shopping experience, little Tyler turns and asks the officer if he can get something for his brother. How grown police officers have to fight back tears, experiencing every emotion as they make their way through the store. How for the day they are viewed as wish granters, hope providers, and in some cases, wound healers. How one by one they attempt to give even more to the community they already serve. I imagine the answer to Tyler's question is "Yes, I think your brother would like that," and as the child places the item in his cart, the police officer silently prays he never sees Tyler (or his brother) sitting within the confines of a police vehicle again.

Yes, hope is alive in Spanish Fork, Utah this morning as the glorious sounds of sirens signal peace on earth, goodwill toward men. And for one day--just this one day every December--the sounds which are usually associated with tragedy and despair, sing a song of love and hope in our community.

In contrast, I cannot help but think of Newtown, Connecticut this morning. May God bless the family and community members of those lost in the unthinkable tragedy yesterday. Unlike my neighbors and me, they awoke to a bitter, empty silence this morning--a silence that I hope will wake up a nation...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Today I am just brainstorming--you know considering topics I might like to write about. Feedback is always welcome...

my inability to relax

my thoughts on nylons, nylon stockings, pantyhose, hose whatever you want to call them

talking back

the beauty of mediocrity (my version of being content)

when people assume 'your' dumb (see, I had to add the " so you wouldn't think I was...)

the fact that my husband can love me just as much when I spend too much money as when I live on shoestring budget.

How having fewer resources sparks creativity.

the hypocrisy required in parenting

stinky rags in the kitchen

cleaning the abyss (aka my children's rooms)

the assumption of others that you share their beliefs

long hair on older women (or men for that matter)

trying to define what a good mom is and other pointless lists people like to make

hotel rooms

eating at restaurant buffets

things that stink

belly laughs

love at first sight

teaching highs

losing my memory for a day

the beauty of a poor memory

informing student council members of winners/losers

shopping carts

the boob job-braces analogy and other ridiculous associations people like to make


unnatural hair colors


the touch of a hand

hugs (every mother deserves one avid hugger child)

redefining wealth and poverty in our country

Victoria's Secret

weekends are for relaxing and other myths

feeling betrayed and getting over it

sometimes good people are treated badly and there is no justice

people who talk loud enough in restaurants so that everyone is subjected to their conversations/stupidity

cell phones and texting...just call me, already!

agreeing with the disagreeable

taking parents for granted

trolling--breastfeeding in public fights on fb and other topics that get undies in a wad

customer service extinction

Saturday, October 20, 2012

August 2, 2000

My students have been writing snapshot narratives this week about a moment that changed them. Most of the examples we read were upbeat and lighthearted, but when I read some of the kids' life experiences in their brainstorming, I decided to tackle an event I've been meaning to write about--the second most difficult day of my life. Family may want to grab some Kleenex...

My husband and I pulled into the driveway at the same time that day--a rare but welcomed occurrence. Between swim lessons, the usual daily chores, and an afternoon spent at Olsen's Greenhouse with my mother-in-law, I felt I'd made the most of my stay-at-home-mom workday. It had been a good one. Marv's slow, deliberate movements indicated the job site had not been so kind to his back, and before he could slide out of the truck and saunter into the house with his empty lunch cooler, the boys were already inside, begging to play Midtown Madness on the computer.

I readily agreed to their computer request because I was eager to tell Marv about the experience I'd had at the pool earlier that morning. How a peaceful calm seemed to have settled upon me as I watched Kyle wave to me from the pool during his swimming lesson. How Lane had been cuddled in my lap as we lay in a lawn chair, enjoying the warm quiet. How for a moment, the nausea had subsided and morning sickness had finally left me alone. How the August sun had shown through the clouds, throwing down streams of light from heaven that seemed to whisper, “Savor this, Chris. You and your kids are loved.” The feeling was so pronounced that I sat up and looked around, hoping to see who was watching me in that surreal moment with my children.

My thoughts of the morning were interrupted and immediately forgotten when I heard Marv say, “Angela called once, and it looks like your parents called twice.”

His words stopped me in mid-stride. “Uh-oh,” came my dumb reply, trying to hide the fear in my voice.


“Calls from Yakima in the middle of the day are never a good thing,” I said.

To that, my husband gave his usual shrug, I'm sure in an effort to downplay the fact that within the past year, the very phone he held in his hand had delivered news of childhood diabetes, two mastectomies, a fatal car accident, and most recently, a toddler drowning. All calls from Yakima. All in the middle of the day. All about my family.

“Only one way to find out,” Marv said, handing me the phone.

I dialed my parents' number but hung up when I noticed that Marv was leaving the room. “What are you doing?” he laughed, again trying to ignore my paranoia.

“I'll wait 'til you're back,” I explained, turning toward the kitchen. “I'm not making this call alone.” Shaking his head, Marv closed the door behind him. I knew he would only be a minute, and I was willing to wait. But before I could lay the receiver back on its base, the phone began ringing in my hand. Caller I.D. indicated it was my parents.

“Chris, this is Julie.” What? What was my sister doing at Mom's and Dad's in the middle of the day? “Dad...” Oh no, I thought. Heart attack? Accident? Hospital stay? I could tell she was holding back tears, but then her voice broke, and the rest of her sentence came flooding out with force, “...passed away...Mom found him.”

The blow of her words drained me and took me to the floor.

I was hollow. Numb.

In the moments that followed, my devastated sobs mixed with my sister's as we tried to bridge the seven-hundred mile gap that lay between us. Pressing the phone to my ear, I could hear Julie break into a second wave of grief as she listened to my initial reaction—one she had experienced just an hour before.

A tender touch to my arm distracted me from my meltdown as Marv tried lifting me to my feet. Pulling away and crumpling back onto my knees, I waved him off and forcefully motioned for him to get the boys out of the house. They had seen enough.

I don't know how much time elapsed while Julie and I huddled around our phones and cried together, but it seemed like an eternity—especially since every minute that passed meant I was living one more without my dad. I missed him already.

Somehow, after regaining my composure and pummeling my sister with questions about every detail she had seen or heard in the last half hour, we ended our conversation. I knew there would be more phone calls, but still, it was hard to hang up.

My lifeline had been cut.

I spent most of the afternoon crawling on my knees or lying in the fetal position at the foot of our bed--standing erect a physical impossibility. To a degree my grief felt measured and somewhat calculated because my thoughts kept returning to the unborn child I was carrying. Giving in to the urge to go running down the street screaming was not an option twelve weeks into a pregnancy. I had to get through this calmly, quietly. I couldn't lose this baby. Not like this. Not now.

We had all lost enough.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


As both a parent and a teacher, I have made several observations over the years. Many of these observations have helped me develop what I like to call my “Full-o-Crap” alert. I have been using it effectively in my own home for years, but for some reason I have been hesitant to use it in the classroom...until now. This week, I will officially remove my proverbial blinders after teaching in the classroom for nearly five years. Yes, thanks to the number of students I have caught in bold-faced lies this week, my utopic teaching dream is over and my “Full-o-Crap” meter is reading in the red.

Gone are the days of giving students the benefit of the doubt. Gone are the exceptions I once made for my classroom rules and procedures. Gone are the second, third, and sometimes fourth chances to correct behavior. Gone! Gone! Gone! And, if by chance I find myself longing for my former days of optimism, I will simply read the following ironies which have jaded my views and demolished my dreams of having mutual respect reign in my classroom.

Remember: Students are adept at stretching the truth (formerly known as lying) and convincing parents of your evilness by using phrases such as, “She never has the bellwork ready,” or “She yells at me every day.” Ironically, these are the same students who write down that they have read exactly the fifty pages you require in a week but cannot tell you one thing about the book they've “read.”

Remember: Students who normally can't remember to comb their hair, brush their teeth, or take their dirty clothes to the hamper are somehow able to recall that five weeks and two days ago they turned in their assignment, complete with details as to where they put it and what you were doing when they did so. They may even be able to recollect what they were wearing at the time...

Remember: Students who haven't yet figured out how to drop the “e” and add “ing” in words like moving, coming, and loving are somehow perfectly adept at finding and pointing out the one typo you overlooked on the handout you spent four hours generating the night before. "Mrs. Thompson, aren't the quotation marks going the wrong way at the beginning of this sentence?"

Remember: Students who consistently forget to turn in assignments are somehow blessed with parents who don't forget how to contact you.

Remember: Students who accuse you of being rude when you are simply correcting unacceptable behavior, have been blessed with parents who are the composers of the nastiest emails ever generated. "I demand an explanation!" or "Maybe we should do that to you and see how you like it!" However, they will usually stop themselves just before writing, "Neener-neener." Usually.

Remember: Students who do not follow directions or pay attention in class are the first ones to accuse you of making them look stupid.

Remember: Students who are obstinate, insubordinate, and down right odious are the first ones to seek the sympathies of others by sulking, “That teacher hates me,” even when you have bent over backwards to be professional and kind.

Remember: Students who come to class late and take five minutes to find a pencil are the first ones to cry foul if you hold them after class.

Remember: Students who make life a living hell in the classroom for an entire year are usually the first ones to pop in and visit when school resumes the next fall. Years later,they may even go out of their way at the grocery store or in the Home Depot parking lot to greet you as though you were their long lost relative. Don't panic though. The nightmares will return...but only for a short period of time.

Remember: Students who are respectfully quiet in class are often your biggest fans and will sing your praises outside the classroom. Unfortunately, their parents seldom call or write.

If only I could wrap my Full-o-Crap meter and give it as a gift...I know exactly who my first recipients would be...

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Sam's Club Hot Dog Combo is of the Devil

Even though I often say “I love food!” I don't really mean “love.” Then again, I don't think I mean “lust” either. Whether love or lust comes into play when referring to any of my food choices, I know not. What I do know is that I am guilty of at least seven other deadly sins whenever I indulge in one of the tastiest temptations to come along since the forbidden fruit itself: The Sam's Club Hot Dog Combo. At only a buck fifty, this oversized jumbo dog, when accompanied by an even larger soda, is nothing less than a life-shortening heart attack wrapped in foil and prepared, at an irresistible bargain price, by none other than the devil himself.

Here is how seven of the deadly sins manifest themselves every time I partake:

Sloth, in that I am far too lazy to make my own lunch and would rather drive clear to Provo than engage in any sort of food prep.

Greed, in that I am only willing to spend $1.50 for my meal, thus hanging on to the remaining eight dollars and fifty cents found in my wallet as though they were my last (because usually they are).

Gluttony, as I savor every last bite of the salt-infested, ketchup-slathered, mustard-dotted, onion-sprinkled, relish-infused, artery-clogging weenie in a bun.

Envy, in the eyes of the jealous passersby as they long for a bite of my juicy hot dog on steroids.

Wrath, when I realize I have just consumed more fat calories in a single setting than I do in a regular weekend!

Pride, at the realization that I could consume this same diet every day of the week for the next year and probably never gain an ounce (thanks to my overactive metabolism).

Vainglory, as I think to myself: If only I could look as good as this thing tastes!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Seven for Seven--An interactive post

My dear friend is about to have her seventh baby boy in the next few weeks. In honor of her, I would like to explore all of the “funny” (that's code for awkward and insensitive) comments she has endured over the last several months/years. I am also asking for your help in the form of responses. Please read through the list and write a “funny” retort she might be able to offer any of the comments listed below. Number them accordingly.

If you were about to have your seventh boy, what would say to the following?

1. Don't you know how to prevent that?
2. You know, there are ways of getting a girl.
3. Are you going to keep trying for a girl?
4. Wow! You'll have a whole litter. How many are in a litter, anyway?
5. You are a missionary machine!
6. Do you know the Duggars?
7. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is my favorite show!
8. Are you Catholic or Mormon?
9. Was this planned or was it a surprise?
10. I wish having babies was easy for me. I might have had more.
11. I had a dream your baby weighed 10 lbs. 4 oz.
12. So, what are you going to name this one (note the use of the pronoun 'one' which gives the baby an almost inanimate connotation).
13. I couldn't even think of seven boy names!
14. I bought the baby a dress, just in case...

Thanks for your participation. She will be reading, so make her laugh. Just remember: Even though she is my friend, she (unlike me) actually has some class. Keep it clean, people!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sticks and Stones May Break my Bones but Cracks and Rolls Incite Me!

For my friends who are worried they might be one of The People of Walmart...

The People of Walmart Criteria:

1. Expose either the top 1/3 (crack region) or the bottom 1/3 (cheeky region) of one's gluteus maximus--cellulite, optional.

2. Wear a printed t-shirt (or tattoo) containing an x-rated picture, at least one vulgarity, or a crude message one might expect to see within the corridors of a junior high...or prison.

3. Have what can only be described as an "Imodium moment" in the store or parking lot, then knowingly wear (or leave) the evidence thereof for all other shoppers to see.

4. Resemble Santa Claus--on or off duty.

5. Share one or more fat rolls by allowing them to ooze from the restrictive bands of one's apparel--"apparel" being a relative term.

6. Leave nothing to the imagination for the occasional shopper who might be thinking: I wonder what kind of underwear he/she is wearing.

7. Dress in costume, preferably with Star Wars or slut overtones. Combine them to make The People of Walmart Hall of Fame.

8. Shop with a monkey, raccoon, small dog, lizard, or child perched precariously in one's apparel or attached to one's breast.

9. Have an overabundant mass of body hair visible for all to see (or touch if they so desire).

10. Dress or act in any manner that causes no fewer than ten patrons to wonder if you have lost a bet.

To the people who spend their time taking and posting these photos, complete with foul and debasing comments: You have almost as much class as the people you mock. You could learn a few things from Sam Walton himself when he said: Live Better.
That's code for: Get a life!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The English Teacher-Gangsta Connection

Then. Than. Not quite homophones when pronounced deliberately, but they are still commonly confused and, as a result, misused in my students' writing on a regular basis. Don't worry. This is not going to turn into one of those snooty posts about how ignorant the general public is when it comes to English grammar. I'm not that kind of English teacher. Plus, I don't have time to list all of the mistakes I see, hear, and make on a daily basis.

I figure that along with the dress standards in our society, we all get lazy from time to time and don't stop to think about the consequences of our sloppy word usage. Like the young men I see roaming the halls of our junior high with the crotch of their jeans hanging somewhere between their thighs and their knee caps, we often find ourselves being careless to the point where we look a little silly, but as long as we aren't caught with our proverbial pants on the ground, we aren't always diligent in correcting the drivel that spews from our mouths when we speak or from our fingertips when we type. Now, I know what you are thinking: Those punks whose pants ride underneath their cheeky region look more than just a little silly! And you're right. But if you think about it, these slovenly clad doofuses still manage to reach their objectives, regardless of their ridiculous attire, don't they? I mean, cars still get stolen, drugs still get purchased, and police are still evaded despite the fact that the sloppily dressed dorks must keep one hand safely in a belt loop at all times so as to not lose their baggy draws. So you see, I figure if there is hope for the ridiculously dressed, there is also hope for the rest of us clowns who trip over our own words from time to time—and yes, I just used coordinating conjunctions to begin three sentences in the last paragraph...sue me.

Now, before my fellow English teacher friends get their panties in a figurative wad, I am not saying that poor English usage is unimportant. I just believe that if we spend our days constantly pointing the finger at all of our friends and associates who carelessly misuse a word now and again, we really aren't any better off than the hoodlum who must keep one hand on his butt skimmers at all times. Whether we are pointing a finger, or giving our friends an unsolicited V-8 whack up side the head every time they have a slip of the tongue (or pen), we are more like the droopy-drawered criminal than we may want to admit. Think about it: We are both without the use of one hand, we are both menaces to society, and we both run the risk of being hated even more than we already are. Truth be told, English teachers have far more enemies than your average baggy-pantsed gangsta.

So the next time you see the misuse of a simple thing like 'then' and 'than' remember, you have two choices: You can kindly make a mental note not to ask that particular friend or loved one to edit your next thesis, or you can get out your smug, judgmental English teacher pointer finger and call attention to the mistake for all to see. Just be prepared to lose something more important than your pants if you choose the latter...