Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Humbugs

I have some strong opinions about the current cultural craze of the elf on the shelf. I will admit that my kids are older and have no desire to track the movements of a fantasy stuffed doll during the holidays, so we do not participate. I have observed many odd things lately about this naughty creature. I just need to vent a bit.

First of all, parents use this game to make children behave by using their innate desire to please against them. "The elf is watching" parents say. But the elf does naughty things. Who is watching the elf? There are endless boards and websites devoted to showing parents what kind of mischief the family elf should wreck around the house. This is like/not like the "Santa is watching" I grew up with. Santa was never seen and certainly would never TP the bathroom or spread glitter around the mantle. It's kind of confusing to me, but so are a lot of things. I do enjoy the fun pics of kids freaking out when the elf gets touched though. Apparently the elf loses magic if he/she is touched or played with by the kid. Seems kind of cruel to me.

I also notice parents getting freaked out by the work of keeping up with the elf all December and remembering to move him/her and create fancy scenes for their children to find in the morning. Seems like a lot of work  to me. Especially at this time of year. And for what effect? Entertainment? For the children? My kids are plenty entertained, thanks. That's why we have computers, and game systems, and TVs, and books. I have to wonder if parents don't participate in this just to prove they can. Since I have failed as the tooth fairy for years, and that only happens occasionally, I'm pretty sure that keeping up the elf charade would be a total flop.

I know this is just a cultural thing and it's not harmful. I know that I resist new and different things just because I am stingy that way. I honestly just don't get the new craze. So, I intend to continue with my marginal, yet just as special, routine for holiday happenings. Mine go something like this: postpone putting up the tree until the youngest begs me enough that I have to respond, find the stockings a few days later, fake "losing" the garlands I bought last year after the holiday so that I don't have to put them up (and thus take them down),  put off gift shopping until the last day, wrap in one long painful session where my legs ache and my feet hurt and I just don't care if you get your present in a Walmart bag, and binge watch my latest Netflix entertainment as long as possible.

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

She Did It!

A peek into graduation, from inside my head...

There are so many feelings coursing through my soul this weekend. I took a moment during the ceremony (I had some time to think while the undergrads commenced) to just take in the moment of the day. It was loud, and crazy, and ceremonial, and a little weird for a 40+ mom. But oh, how sweet it was. I feel so many things about completing this degree.

I am grateful. Yep, it's a feeling. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to: God for His gifts of wisdom and protection and provision and so much more; My husband, for walking with me with kindness and understanding through the journey of this schooling experience; my children, for eating way too many fast food meals and living in a messy hovel with irregularly cleaned clothes; my friends, for remembering me even when I forgot important things like calling and keeping in touch.. the list just goes on and on.

I am proud. I did it! I worked full time, kept the family alive, and learned lots of new stuff and I did it! And it feels good. A bit complex, too. As a Christian, we are warned against pride that puffs us up. I struggle with that. But in this instance, I think this pride acknowledges that I did it, with help from those around me and God Himself, most importantly,directing my steps. He gets the glory, but I still am so proud that I did this huge thing. It was work and took courage and was not easy. And I did what I needed to do. I will not discount the effort that this degree required with false humility.

I am joyful! This is a deep and profound lightness in my spirit that bubbles out in my smile. I find myself smiling huge for no apparent reason this weekend. There is joy in finishing well and accomplishing a big goal. I had forgotten that feeling. Before undertaking this degree, I can't remember the last large goal I had to work hard for. There is certainly something powerful in the joy that comes from accomplishing a hard won thing.

I am a bit scared, too. Everyone keeps asking "What are you going to do with all that free time?" And I don't know. It seems wrong to say "sleep more, watch more tv, maybe dust some flat surfaces?" I don't know what God has for me next. I do know that this degree allows me to make some career changes. That is very scary. Exciting, too. But still scary.

My head can be a messy place. Big feelings make me distinctly uncomfortable, but I am processing through it all. And I embrace the life that these emotions stem from. I graduated,so apparently old dogs can learn new tricks. I hoe that applies to other areas of my life as well.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving rituals

Every family has rituals and traditions. These are the things that are looked forward to and anticipated. Sometimes they are the things we do without conscious thought at the same time every year. Our family is no different.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles - we watch it every Thanksgiving. Now that the boys are old enough to have favorite parts we all laugh in the same places. And now that everyone has traveled on planes, trains and automobiles it makes more sense.

Christmas decoration guilt - this one is solely mine. The boys have no guilt about not getting the house Christmasfied before heading back to school. I do. Because I know that it will be December 20th before I get it all out. I've never actually done the decorating before the end of the Thanksgiving break, but I always want to and hate it that I spend my time binge watching shows instead.

Binge watching/gaming - I watch Netflix, the boys game. For untold hours. I am a bad mom. I have less guilt about this than the holiday decorating. Like I said, I am a bad mom.

FFA - Free For All eating plan. I seldom cook except for what I do for the holiday. My family has been known to each peanut butter and old banana chips for 3 meals straight. Only slight guilt on this one because they are still growing and not glassy eyed.

Sleeping in - I take great joy in not setting an alarm. Somehow getting that extra 3 hours in the morning makes a difference in my day. Even though I was up 3 hours later the night before. Internal alarm clocks are the worst thing ever.

Family together time - this tradition has changed over the years, but the constant is that it is always the Saturday before we head back to school. Like it or not, we will spend the afternoon together. :)

I like our traditions. They suit us as a family. And I think that's what traditions are all about.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Funeral Flowers!

Have you ever had to buy funeral flowers? It's hard! It shouldn't be, but wow! I know these things: Mamaw gave white flowers for other people's funerals, carnations are taboo, I have a budget, it matters because it matters to my mother in law. So I went with roses and lillies. White. It's pretty and we loved our Mamaw. That will have to do.

Here's why it's so hard:  I love color! Give me Gerber daisies and crazy arrangements. Flowers are some of my favorite things ever and they shouldn't cause stress. But alas, it's a week of stress. Saying goodbye is like that. Even when it is expected and a welcome relief to know she is out of pain.

So, we will say our goodbyes to the lady who helped Chris become the amazing man he is. We will talk, chat, eat, and endure awkward family moments. That's what makes our family roll.

So here's to you Mamaw! Thanks for years of love, care, acceptance, and great Sunday dinners. You will be missed by many.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

IT's my 400th post? really?

So I realized today that I could use some therapy. And then I remembered that I like eating out occasionally, not sweating the bank account monthly, and the kids needs shoes. So, I came here. This is my nook that is kind of public, so I can feel like it's a public airing of life that I actually share with people. But it's also kind of safe because I am pretty sure that my mom is the only one who reads it.

On my 400th post, I'd like to list 400 things I would change if I were the boss. Not really. 400 is a lot and I don't have that much imagination.

Here's what's been happening in Willingham's World: I am trying to finish my Master's degree. That's all. Well, all that I'm thinking about. Oh, and school started. And I really want another job. It's not the place, or the people, or the actually work. No, it's all the other stuff.

I want a job where I can be respected for the 20 years of experience I have in my field. I want a job where I don't feel like every conference is an attack on my abilities and performance. I want a job where performance isn't rated through data boards and menial numbers that only give a piece of what is going on.

I want to teach kids stuff. I want to grow their love of reading and writing maybe too. I want to see them play with ideas and learn how to interact appropriately in social settings. I want to feel like a hero when they finally get it and I don't want to feel like a bandit when I have a crazy idea and just go with it. I don't want to explain my reason for everything I do.

Oh, and I want a 4 day work week. And inclement learning days when the weather is too nice to be inside so everyone must go outside all day. And I want some cream cheese icing.

So, that's where it is. I'm working hard, hard, hard on coursework. And I'm trying desperately to figure stuff out.  Thanks therapists. That helped.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Heart

Within every amazingly good institution there is an individual who is the heart. In exceptional places, there are several. They exemplify what is unique and lovely and powerful within the context of that place. The heart not only keeps things moving, but carries the memories and cultural traditions. They inspire and lead and encourage and guide without even knowing what they are doing sometimes. And when the heart is gone, for whatever reason, the work environment mourns. It will eventually change and a new heart will emerge to fit the new culture and work will continue. But those who were there before always remember and poignantly feel the loss. Phrases like "remember when" and "I sure do miss..." echo in their minds on a regular schedule.

A couple of years ago, the heart left abruptly for health reasons. It was the right thing, but it still hurt. Our family mourned and moved on slowly because we knew it was for the best. A new way of getting things done began to grow in fits and starts.

Then, just as a new culture was forming, another heart was needlessly removed. Here one day, gone the next. Careless and untrue accusations rocked our piece of the world and we wondered if things would ever be right again. Unable to move forward and impossible to return to life before, our family accepted, grudgingly, the new status. Our heart was missing and we didn't know if it would come back. We were incomplete and the loss affected us all. A new normal emerged that was a shadow of what it should be. And we waited. We prayed. We snooped. Then we prayed some more. And we waited, always wondering if our heart would come back to us, or if we would have to create another new way of operating.

Today, our heart returned. It was a glorious surprise that was the perfect uplifting end to a hard first week. The return was answered prayers and patient waiting for justice. It was a beautiful thing. I don't know what it felt like to have over 700 people on their feet chanting your name, friend, but from where I was standing it was the best!

Welcome Home!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I took the summer off

Yep,I did, I took the summer off of blogging. I might even take the fall off. Who knows.

This week has been a little nostalgic for me due to heading back to school and all. son #1 and Baby boy have been amazingly sweet and kind. In return I give them free reign on computers.

But I looked over the other day and got a sentimental. Son #1 is offically a man-boy. He has fuzz on his chin and hairy pits. His voice is strange and he can touch the ceiling without standing on his toes. But he still came over and said "I need a hug". He confessed that he had trouble going to sleep last night because he was missing Blazer. He alternates between physically rough housing with the little brother and giving him unasked for advice about middle school. He opens my doors and lays his head on my arm when we sit close together. He is turning into a beautiful young man. And it made me stop and thank God for a great kid that I get to parent through this life. I took a moment and just felt the joy and sadness of being a mom to boys.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

And..She's back!

The semester is over and I don't have classes for another few weeks. So, I might want to update this. I know you've been dying to hear what has happened. Lets work backward in time....

2 hours ago my son asked how babies came out if they weren't cut out of the Mom. A conversation ensued. The mystery of female biology is no more. Husband, you OWE me. What good is having boys if I have to explain these things to them??? My one perk, and it's gone. At least it wasn't awkward or anything.

5 hours ago, I got Mother's Day flowers 3 days early. And they are pretty! I am so blessed to have a husband who thought ahead enough to order flowers in time that I can show them off to my fellow teacher AND he didn't have to pay prime delivery fees. He's thoughtful like that.

Yesterday, I found out I won an award! I haven't won an award since I was in 7th grade. I received the Outstanding Student Award from SHSU Dept of Library Sciences. So nice to be recognized. I am honored. Truly.

Just before I went to get the mail and find my surprise award, I booked a trip on Expedia to London for the summer. AHH! It's going to happen now for sure because those suckers are nonrefundable. I am so excited. 8 days in Germany for baseball camp and 4 days in London. Traveling the world. I never thought it would happen, but I can't wait. The planner in me is on hyper drive and I am trying to relax about the packing and the paying (right now we can get there and have a place to stay, but not eat or go anywhere), and the being away from home for 2 weeks, and the paying, and finding the right shoes to walk around Europe without having my feet kill me, and.... I think I need to relax a bit. So I'm going to smile awkwardly at my shiny award and figure out what to cook for dinner.