* Finding Josie Two Shoes

Josie Two Shoes.jpg

Who is Josie Two Shoes?  I first crossed paths with her a couple of weeks ago as she hosts the Ten Things of Thankful (TToT) blog.  TToT introduced me to a sweet group of bloggers who share their stories and encourage me to focus on the positives in my life.  I wondered about this Two Shoes who inspired other kind folks to respond so thoughtfully to my own meager TToT contributions.

My search for Josie Two Shoes was on!  Her blogger profile explains that a new chapter of her life started in 2007, when she declared that she was now standing on her own two feet.  That led me to her blog, where I discovered that she is also a writress.  A really good writress.  Wow.  Josie completed the A-Z blogging challenge by writing, and I quote: “a serial story in six-sentence segments involving twenty-six women living in the small Midwest town of Cottonwood Creek, their lives connected by the Women’s Circle of the town’s protestant church, Hope Christian Fellowship, to which they all belong.”  Talk about clever and intriguing!

By following Josie’s footprints, I discovered her Facebook page.  I was struck by Josie’s focus on being kind to yourself and others, not letting those stumbles and bumps define who you are.  I could have clicked “LIKE” on each post!

Josie’s shoes then led me to her Twitter account and from there, back to her blog, where I savored some of her writings on faith and the miraculous.

If you are looking for a place of encouragement and inspiration AND a safe spot to share your writing with others, follow Josie’s Two Shoes.  You’ll end up with a smile on your face and a polished pair of two shoes!

* TToT and A-Z: the letter D

In case you’re wondering what that odd title means, this is my Ten Things of Thankful post and I am using the letter D from the A-Z blogging challenge (yes, I have skipped C temporarily).  Be sure to check out Josie Two Shoes’ post and links to others who have posted their own Ten Things!

  1. Delightful, deer-proof flowers, waiting to replace the not-so-deer-proof stubs.sage
  2. Dearest teaching widower shoveling a place to plant the new flowers!                                      shoveling.JPG
  3. Dirt all ready!                                                                                                                                            dirt.JPG
  4. aDorable sage meadow that smells pungent and hopefully unattractive to Deer.
  5. Detritus from our neighbor’s huge sweetgum tree.  Love the tree but can live without the pods!                                                                                          detritus
  6. Don’t Break the Ice Game, perfect for Fun Friday with a special student!   Don't break the Ice
  7. Doodads in my hair for Wacky Hair Day at school this week!                                                         wacky hair day 1
  8. Delicious and nutritious snacks- yum!                                                                                               nuts 
  9. Disney movie that satisfied all the kiddos at our movie night: G Force.  And finally,
  10. DUH!  My son had to help me with Algebra 2.  Thank goodness for a math-savvy family!

* Ten Things of Thankful

I haven’t tackled the challenge to write Ten Things of Thankful in months, so I reread Lizzi’s Christmas list of 50 things, which amazes me (but not enough to copy).  Let’s see how far I can get….

  1.  I am feeling a bit better today!  Still shaky but this round of steroid withdrawal is losing its power to flatten me.
  2. My dearest steroid withdrawal widower has been tending to me so carefully, encouraging me that this will pass.  What would I do without his love?
  3. Rationally, I know that the flattening and disgusting side effects of withdrawal are far better than something like chemo.  I do not have cancer; I’m not facing that dreadful siege.  My heart aches for those who are in that battle.
  4.  My broken foot, still encased in a boot, no longer objects to an occasional free step.  In 2 weeks, I’ll know whether it can fly out of its cocoon.
  5. The local (pricey) swimming pool is sending out teasers suggesting that we may be able to swim there again, after months of locked doors.  Aquatics.JPG
  6. Vance, the Venus fly trap, continues to sprout new traps, ever hopeful that the spring will bring a random gnat into the house.  Of course, I am just boarding Vance for his student-owner, whose house must be kept like a refrigerator.                                                 Vance 2.JPG
  7. I’ve just started a MOOC course on Mathematics and Technology through The Friday Institute.  After reading through the profiles of all the participants, I can see that I am on the lowest percentile regarding middle school math skills.  I do love a challenge.  It’s not too late for you to sign up, either, no matter where you live!  Cool!TMT
  8. We are hosting a Korean zombie movie night this evening.  Train to Busan, with Korean food and sweet guests.  I HOPE I can rouse myself out of bed!                                    Train to Busan 2.jpg
  9.  A dear friend (who now lives far away) has a birthday today.  I owe her more than I could ever express.
  10.  I have read about 20 books in the past few days.  It’s been a wonderful way to escape from bleh and blah and worse.  iphone books.PNG
  11.  My faith rests in the confidence that I am being held, not that I can hold on.
  12. I’ve been able to eat chocolate throughout this temporary ordeal.  I assume that is related to #11.

Thank you, dear readers, for your patience as I’ve fallen away from my regular posting once again.  Who knew??  Oh yes, the One who loves me knew.  I’m in good hands and

* A Legacy

Lizzi has written a powerful message on legacy, as she and her family bid farewell to their Nana.  I can’t adequately capture Lizzi’s passionate writing, so please head over to her blog and read for yourself.

Lizzi concludes her post with these questions: What would you like to be remembered for? Have you ever wondered about life, whilst commemorating its passing? Who makes you thankful to be alive and learning? 

My dearest teaching widower and I are nearing the statistically likelihood of our deaths, although we’ve all learned that age is no protection from the inevitable.  Before I was saved, I simultaneously wanted to die and thought I would live forever.  I no longer fear or long for death.  Well, I admit there are hard times when I cry out, “Jesus, beam me up!”

I want to be remembered as a lover.  A lover of Jesus, first.  A lover of my husband.  A lover of my relatives and my church family.  A lover of thousands of students.

my-dearest-widower-va

I do wonder about my eternal life and especially the new earth.  Will dogs and cats be able to speak?  Will I be able to stay next to Jesus while I also explore the galaxies with my dearest widower?  Can I re-negotiate the marriage deal then?  I never want to be away from my dearest widower.  Will there be toilets and will we need them?

Who makes me thankful to be alive and learning?   God.  If not for his intervention, I would have died in infancy and many times after that.  I’ve experienced a multitude of brushes with death, and here I am, by his grace.

If you do not have this faith, I sound stupid.  I used to tell a therapist (who did not have this faith, either), that religion was a just crutch for the weak.  I mocked anyone who believed in God.  The name of Jesus made me sick.  How could God allow the destruction of my soul?  Where was he during all those dreadful years?  Now I acknowledge my weaknesses and ask, “How could God have redeemed my soul and saved me from death?  Why me?”   Now I know where he was and see what he was doing.  It makes me want to shout for joy!

 

* Ten things of thankful

Thanks, Lizzi-across-the-pond, for your inspiration to search out the silver linings in the cloudy parts of life.

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My health has been cloudy with a chance of meatballs for a couple of months.   Since I have already whined posted about my summer (Miss Fun), it’s time to find some positives.  First, the antibiotics I took were effective.  Considering that I’m down to one broad spectrum antibiotic, that is SUPER good news.   Otherwise, I’d be looking at kidney failure instead of a computer.  I saw my dearest widower more than usual during the day (#2), had a airfare-and-baggage-free vacation on the couch (#3), and loaded myself with delicious cups of antioxidant tea (#4).   Having felt so wretched meant that when our nephew and fiancee visited us, I was ready to try a new diet (#5).  I just finished a week of the Zone Diet and learned that I like kale and collard greens.  Who knew?  I’ve eaten more vegetables in the past week than in my entire life.   I’m hoping that eating several pounds of vegetables a day will be a life-changing experience in some way (#6).  Yeah, #6 is almost silver….

I am loving teaching more than ever.  I have the BEST students and families, hands down (#7).  I’m in awe of how hard these kiddos work, no matter how they feel, the effort required, or the long haul in front of them.  Is it selfish to say that teaching is pure joy?  I was made to teach, which gives me incredible satisfaction.

I’m swimming again, after months away from the pool (#8).  I was also made to swim.  How wonderful is that?   If I can keep my competitive eyes off other swimmers, I love to pray as I swim.  My first thoughts are “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” as I flow through the water.  Slowly.  Looking for someone to race.

My dearest teaching widower and I just hosted our first small group of the semester.  Dinner and movies with funny and lovable folks (#9).   First we had to clean the house, though.  What do other people do with paper clutter?  I stuffed ours in a bag on the washer, if you need a tip.   We also have trip wires for anyone who ventures upstairs, which is where everything else gets tossed before the guests arrive.  Another free tip, folks.

I love the plans that God has made for me, knowing I am never alone in any storm (#10).  I am loved!  Woohoo!

 

* To my father

PG 13 content

In the spirit of Lizzi’s Ten Things of Thankful, here are ten special things about my father.  Those of you who know me must wonder how I can find ten good things about that man.  I grew up hating my father and once tried to kill him (long story there).  He was a sadistic alcoholic who sexually, physically, and emotionally abused me until I left home for good.  My father vowed to destroy me and accomplished that early on.  When he died at age 52, I was living as far away from him as I could get.  I smiled at the news and thought I was free.  What a joke.   OK, the good part is coming.

father

This was not a fun photo op. There weren’t any of those, ever. I remember being pinched hard because I didn’t want to get near him.

The One who became my true father is responsible for this post.  It turned out that God is not at all like my biological father, which was a major shock.  Now I can share 10 things I appreciate about this special man.  Most of these are tainted by savage experiences, but the nuggets of good are still in there.

  1. He was brilliant, especially with chemistry, electronics, and math.  He designed systems to keep chemical pollution out of a local water supply.  My father built our TV, a boat, model airplanes and ships, and equipment for spying on us and our neighbors.
  2. His photographic memory always amazed me and inspired me to practice looking at pages of text and recording them in my mind.
  3. We each had an indomitable will.  Even when I could not say a word, he read the fiery anger in my eyes.  I fought him every day and night, in every way that I could.  My determination and stubbornness have been quite helpful when turned to more positive endeavors.
  4. My father always wanted me to be a teacher, despite his own terrible experiences with the one he threatened to throw through a window.  He was thrilled that I became a teacher and paid me $50 a month to write to him about my teaching experiences.
  5. I could tell that he loved his brothers, although none of them escaped their household unscathed.
  6. My love of exercise probably came from early years of trying to please this man, but it’s a passion which has been really good for me.
  7. My father enjoyed televised sports and I learned a lot about football from being forced to sit next to him during games.  No, he did not tell me anything about the game, but the commentators were helpful.  And now I enjoy sports with much friendlier folks.
  8. I learned to clean and clean and clean from my father.  Yes, it was actually torture, being forced as a young child to clean all night long, but as my dearest widower commented the other day, “It’s great that you do the deep cleaning around here!  Someone has to!”  True enough.  And I enjoy it.
  9. Despite making every “family” photo a nightmare experience, my father seriously loved photography.  He apparently loved nature and especially sunsets and sunrises.  No surprise that I often requested a camera for Christmas.  And now I want to be like Cee!
  10. Before he died during open heart surgery, my father knew he would not make it.  He never apologized for anything, but sent me a letter describing how he was putting things in order (which I received after he had died).  I immediately trashed that letter, but have since realized that he had time to turn away from his evil deeds and reach out to the Father he never had, either.

I look forward to an eternity with this special man, seeing him as he was intended to be and both loving him and being loved, as I always wanted.

 

 

* Loving when it’s hard

So thrilled that Lizzi is on the upswing, thanks in large part to blogging friends.  In fact, she’s a giggly, PG13 bogger this weekend, creating body parts… (  )(  )  Her new word, frivolyptic, is inspiring me as I explore my own Ten Things of Thankful.

I am thankful to be loved and forgiven when I stay up late playing computer games, when I take offense, when I talk too much, when I am irritable.  I’m thankful for a gentle, patient widower who enriches my life in every way.  I am grateful for an adorable son and daughter-in-law who enjoy spending time with us.  When I drowned my phone a couple of weeks ago, we had the finances to replace it.  Last week’s graduation party for a student was THE most delightful event of the year.

I am also grateful for ongoing opportunities to grow in love.  The kiddos that spend a lot of time here are teaching me how little love and patience I really have.  (“Oh, you’re a special ed teacher- you must have SO much patience!”)  Granted, much of my impatience is buried in silence, which is better than lashing out.  I felt like screaming when the most hyper kiddo gave a friend a bloody nose.  When he spilled two bottles of juice all over the carpet.  When he barely missed our huge TV with a Wii remote.  Or when his sib had a tantrum because everyone wasn’t playing the game he wanted.  Or when his other sib wet her pants once again and would not listen to me as I said she must stay downstairs while I fetched a replacement pair of undies.  Or when another sib slammed the weakest of the lot to the floor.  Or when yet another sib locked me out of my computer and wouldn’t release the password.  There.  Can you tell I still need more opportunities to love?  I will have them all day tomorrow; I am genuinely excited that there will be new ways to grow and cherish these kids as I am cherished and loved.  Praying for grace!

at the park.JPG

We all survived on our last excursion to the park!

 

* Bats in the belfry?

My Half-of-Ten Things of Thankful (and thank you, Lizzi, for your inspiration, as always!) explores the wonders of nature.  Specifically, how to keep nature at a safe distance.  You might say, “What’s wrong with nature?” and I would say, “Nothing, as long as it doesn’t crawl in the house.”  I know my place and I wish nature would follow suit.  Here are my HTToT:

  1.  My dearest widower noticed an ominous stain on the outside of the attic screen.  I followed on his heels as we opened the super noisy attic door and peered into the darkness.  BATS!                                                                                                                                       bats.JPG
  2. See those two at the very top and bottom?  They didn’t like being awakened and gave us grim looks.  We quietly backed away, after noticing their babes and the humongous piles of toxic droppings.  The good news?  They can be shooed out in August after their babies are grown.                                                                                                                                                     
  3. It’s been raining cats and dogs here, which makes me happy.  But the worms have had a tough time of it, coming up for air and finding sharp robin beaks patiently waiting.  Slugs have also been seeking drier land, but in our kitchen?  Seriously?  The good news?  My dearest widower returned the slimy intruder to his natural habitat.                                                                                                                                                          
  4.  No one ever sees baby squirrels, right?   We don’t see anything under 25 lbs. because our squirrels have pot bellies from eating at the bird feeder.  But there must have been a squirrel nest catastrophe a month ago, because a baby squirrel appeared in our yard.  The good news?  It survived because I hadn’t cut the grass, not because it had any sense at all.  It’s gotten larger and a tad smarter.  It’s interesting to see that the grownups give it more leeway with eating.
  5.  That reminds me of another squirrel adventure.  This one also came in through the attic and set up a cozy home.  The good news?  Shrieking was effective it driving it back to the “wilderness.”  After it explored the bathroom.                                                                                                                             Squirrel in shower                                                       
  6.   The good news?  Ours is not the only home under attack.  (Misery loves company.)  These poor folks have an entire front yard filled with these holes every 6 inches or less.  They are not mole hills or fire ants.  These are tunnels for digger bee larvae.  Our tunnels are from voles, which seem less creepy to me.

mole hills

Good news simply abounds at our house.  I think our neighbors have termites.

 

 

 

* To my mother

In the spirit of Lizzi’s Ten Things of Thankful (TToT), here are ten special gifts from my mother.  My mother and I had a tumultuous relationship, when we had one at all.  Our best times together came in her last five years, during which she suffered from dementia.  It was in that difficult season that we freely connected, laughed until our stomachs hurt, and shared many intimate moments.  Here are ten things I appreciate about this special woman.

  1.  She taught me to laugh.  Even in our worst times together, we could sometimes find common ground through laughter.  And during the years of dementia?  We laughed like crazy.
  2. My mother taught me to sew when I was quite young, trusting me with her precious Singer sewing machine.  She used to sew identical dresses for herself, my sister, and I.  We were quite a sight.
  3. My mother had phenomenal verbal skills and I definitely shared her love of words.  We both enjoyed word puzzles.  Her fave was the Jumble.
  4. I learned to love animals, and especially dogs, through my mother’s delight in pets.  I tried to pass this trait along to our kids but failed miserably.  Our son was disinterested and our adopted daughter was jealous of dear Luke.
  5. I inherited her dreadful singing voice.  In her last years, my sister and I would hear her screeching happily to the dogs, absolutely off-key.  All I could think was, “Me, too!”
  6. My mother and I shared a tremendous willfulness and we were both survivors, albeit through different routes.
  7. We both loved to take photos from an early age.  We also enjoyed endless hours looking through photo albums.
  8. In her last years, my mother and I watched numerous episodes of Martha Speaks, an animated PBS show for kids.  Martha, the talking dog, resembled several of my mother’s “goldens.”  We were sure they could all talk.
  9. On the subject of talking, my mother and I were both chatterboxes.  I must admit I’ve had to learn the listening part of chatting as an adult, with help from my dearest widower.
  10.  My mother and I shared a love of writing.  Neither of us completed anything worth reading, but the process was delightful.

 

Mother

Deboarding in New York after crossing the Atlantic. Caro was glad to be released from the “dog quarters.” 

* Mayday! Mayday!

What happened to April?  Some wonderful and not-so-wonderful events.  Here are a few of them, thanks to Lizzi’s inspiration.  Her post this weekend is soooooo encouraging (coming to Murica!!) and mysterious!  Check it out!   I’m going to copy her without shame:

M:  Being sick has derailed me completely, especially with my paper work and blogging challenges.  Although I  have been low on energy since then, I am now healthy!  And my dearest widower comes alongside to nudge me to bed at a reasonable time.  Love the light at the end of this tunnel!

A:  Christopher enjoyed a birthday party yesterday once he got over the endless wait for presents.  Sadly, this dear one is struggling in school.  Falling apart struggling.  Too much talk, too few visuals, and no coherent plan.  He told me last night that he HATES changes in schedules.  We will have an IEP meeting and I will try to remember everything I read in “Crucial Conversations.”

Y:  I’ve been a teacher and mentor for a sweet teenager since he was in kindergarten.  How did he get to be an almost-man?   He teaches me all he knows about the NBA and Steph Curry, while I call for help with his algebra!  His life is a bit of a trainwreck right now.  I want to rescue him from his poverty, his relational challenges, and the temptations which nip at his heels.  I trust (and try to trust) that we have been placed together for a perfect reason.  His life is in better hands than mine.

D:  Remember our troubled back yard?   This year the score is Katharine 1, Deer 0!  Wow!  I am rocking that yard!  My babies, the periwinkle ground cover, are coated with deer repellant.  That leads me to…

A:  I just cut the entire back yard with scissors!  Anyone else do that recently?  See, if I use the lawnmower, even on a high setting, it chews up my baby periwinkles. I am now icing my back (and I don’t mean with cake frosting, either).  I may be on Vicodin before the night is over.  I don’t know why the grass looks greener on the other side of sunset.

Y:  My dearest widower is off my crutches, in PT, and doing so much better!   Yeah, he limps a bit, but I’m so happy that he’s no longer in agony.

!:  I hope to finish my April blogging challenges.  I can’t decide which I have enjoyed more, Color Your World with Crayola colors or the A-Z Blogging Challenge.  Probably the photography challenge.  I wanna be Cee when I grow up!