This is my 12th year celebrating being a mom.
My husband and I welcomed our firstborn 11 months after we got married.
I was still 24.
Back then, I was so confused. I was trying to figure out my role as a wife and then being a mom. All I can remember is asking a lot of questions and learning a lot of things I did not know before.
This post, however, isn’t about my motherhood. It’s about my Mom.
One word to describe my Mom is R E S I L I E N T. She’s had many hardships and heartaches. But she didn’t give up. She didn’t give up hoping. She didn’t give up on love. I am very thankful for that. So here’s a way I’m going to celebrate my Mom by listing her qualities.
- Amazing Mezzo-Soprano (yup, she was a professional singer)
- Great baker
- Organized planner & task executioner (!)
- The term “Mama Hand” (a term describing grand portions when someone serves food or in giving) was made to describe her. She makes things in commercial proportions
- Corky funny
- A never-give-up-er
- She raises her voice when she gets upset so you will hear her
- Can design and make most intricate dresses
- Funny, in her own way
- Has a way to calm my spirit when I’m distressed
Mom, you are a great lady, and I am so honored to be taught by you. Being a parent isn’t easy at all and you did your very best. I will take your best and show it to our kids. I’m learning to love you more as I get older.
I love you & thank God for you.
I have been too tired to write blog posts lately .
There have been about a million of victories and challenges since my last post. So let’s start from where we left off: Earth Week.
My assignment to the 5th grade was to use vegetables or recyclable items specifically to create an instrument. When the students came into my classroom with their creation, I was stunned by their creativity:
3 Carrot Ocarina/Kazoo, 1 Honey Dew Bongo Drums, 1 Spaghetti Squash Bongo-Shaker Combo, Homemade Cup Shakers, Recycled packaging drum, a Pair of Wine Box Washboards, 3-Bottle flute, Tissue Box Guitar, a Pair of Parsnip Shakers, 1 English Cucumber Wind Pipe, 1 Zucchini recorder, and 1 Egg Plant Clapper.
Some of these students had a chance to demonstrate in front of the entire school. It was really fun to watch them & hear their performance during Go Green! song. Everyone cheered them on; I was a very happy music teacher!
Friday April 23rd was our last day of Earth Week celebration. Invited guests and vendors set up stations outside on our campus. Student groups visited each station talking to representatives. Although there were many interesting stations (we had a Tesla Roadster parked at a station!), my personal favorite was of this man:
I heard him from afar as I went around different stations. He was singing fun songs to the kids who sat around the amphitheater conversing and singing to them. As I approached the amphitheater, I noticed his set up: usual speakers, mixer, mic stand guitar…and a SOLAR PANEL. All of his equipment was powered by solar power. HOW COOL IS THAT? I found out that he’s been playing music all of his life. He loves to go and provide music for the local farmers’ market (YES! Support the local farms!) and a farmer got tired of running extension chords for him and suggested that he should build a solar panel to power all of his gear.
What an idea.
Chris Adams invested $800 buying things he need to build himself the panel you see above. I love this idea, especially as a music teacher. It literally was one of the most coolest things I’ve seen. Chris said that his wife, the practical one of the two, has always snickered at his “expensive” props – until one day when power was down and she, the caterer, needed to prep for her client. The solar generator kept the refrigerator running, allowing her to not waste food, time or money. She changed her mind after that.
Many people might dream of upgrading their kitchen, the family room, getting a new set of furniture or even buying a new car. Lately, I’ve been thinking about ways to get solar panels! Thank you, Earth-preserving friends at my school for influencing me!
What is essential is invisible to the eye.
~ Fred Rogers quoted this line from the “Little Prince” in 2001 Middlebury College commencement address.
It’s our day #2 of Earth Week celebrations. As we do every Tuesday morning at 8:30 AM, we gathered for chapel*. Sometimes Middle School and early gatherings just don’t mix; this morning was just one of those. It just takes one person, though, to bring us to think and begin our day together. Mr. Bireley welcomed the students and asked the student body what they see on a small desk on the stage (a glass like this picture). Some said, “a glass half-full!”; some said, “Half-empty!”. “It’s interesting,” Mr. Bireley said, “That no one said, half-full with water and other half full with air”. He proceeded to talk about the importance of invisible traits: Helpfulness, Caring, Kindness, Courtesy and Character. It was really cool to hear him talk about practical ways to show our invisibility through being helpful, caring, kind, courteous people who show character. He said he chose to sing Michael Jackson’s Heal the World for morning song because as we celebrate Earth Week, it’s not just about reducing, reusing and recycling that makes our world a better place. As the chorus of the song goes:
Heal the world
Make it a better place
For you and for me and the entire human race
There are people dying
If you care enough for the living
Make a better place for
You and for me.
Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull Volano and Haiti earthquake (and other subsequent quakes) come to mind today.
*chapel is same as school assembly. We are non-sectarian school, but still has Christian traditions.
She turned away and said, “My tissue was spitting,” as if I demanded to know why she was wiping her eyes. She was clearly upset, crying.
I was, thinking, “Should I say something? Something profound? Comforting?”
The following is a story that is related to my last post, #MissionMonday.
She is a quiet, but tenacious, thoughtful, and strong girl. She has many things she likes, but mostly keeps those kinds of information to herself. When she likes something, she goes after it. When she knows she has to work on something, she works harder to get better. Although she is excellent in school, she is one of those kids many do not notice. She is the last one to open up and share her feelings or let others see an emotional side of her.
What was her story?
Funny how things work out sometimes. Only a few hours after I had written my post about #MissionMonday, I was challenged to stop myself from saying the “right thing” while I was listening to this young person. This student just needed me to listen to her. What I heard was that her biggest wound came from another person who did not see her for who she really was. She was not being heard and was ignored. Her spirit was crushed.
I shared just a little. I had to.
She seemed like she was giving up hope. Sometimes, I told her, that life doesn’t always seem fair and can even be horrible. And one “storm-cloudy” person can make a situation unbelievably worse. But giving up something she loves doing now (barely a teenager) because of that person’s ill-effect means that she will never know how she could have grown…all of what she loves will stop where they are now.
I really tried to use very few words (I have a problem being succinct…).
We didn’t have much time afterward. She had to go. I was still feeling like I had to say something more, but wisdom reminded me that silent understanding sometimes is OK. I just smiled at her.
As she was leaving, she sang “Baby, there’s a shark in the water” (chorus of VV Brown’s song, Shark in the Water). She said she might just sing this song to get through next couple of days.
Something tells me, HOPE wins.
I happen to see this post on Twitter stream this morning by @TheNerdyTeacher: #MissionMonday ~ Listen.
Here’s a short excerpt:
Today’s #MissionMonday is hardest simple thing to do. I want all of you to listen today. Listen to your students, listen to your colleagues, listen to your friends and listen to anyone else you see today. I’m sure many of you have a weird look on their face, so let me explain…[the blog post goes on to end with] Your Mission, if you choose to accept it, is to listen to people this week. Take the time and give people the attention they need and listen to them. You might be surprised and what you will hear.
You see, LISTENING IS a skill I teach.
I tell my students, “listen” for melodies, phrase structures, harmonic changes, styles, rhythm, tempo changes, to their singing voices, to other students’ voices AND to every word I say. While I was reading this post, though, I had a moment to think about how much I give them my undivided attention. I critically listen to what they are producing, and I am pretty content to give them an immediate feedback.
I have to confess. I am always busy – thinking of ways to answer questions, to solve problems, to guide and help students or anyone I am with….all good things, but I wonder how much I am really giving them my full attention. I wonder how much of good conversations, learning opportunities, and reflections I have missed by not paying attention to the people around me…
Confession: I think I have a “giving people an intense glazed” look. Translation: “Uh-huh, I am kind of paying attention, but am really thinking about something else”. Need. To. Stop. This. Now.
So I accept @TheNerdyTeacher’s challenge. I want to stop being so busy, overwhelmed by new information or anything that keeps me from getting to know people. I don’t want to just give a pretty convincing look like this cute cat, but want to really be involved.
People in my life deserve more. I am going to keep working on this after this week.
More of them. Less of me.
Check in once in a while and see my progress!
Picture: I Can Stare for a Thousand Years by eNil on Flickr, CC.
Yesterday was a day for follow-up appointment with the trauma doctor.
Our whole family got ready early for my morning appointment.
This day was a special day for me.
It was my first time going outside since the accident – which means it was my first time in two weeks to get dressed to go out, put on shoes, and get my things ready.
It’s only been two weeks. I had almost forgotten the rhythm of every day life. How is that possible?
Yesterday’s 365 daily picture challenge (decided among a group of PLN friends) was to be “Holiday/Vacation Indulgence”.
My day was full of indulgences, I just couldn’t post one. Here’s a list:
- The feeling of walking outside, filling my lungs with freshly rained air, looking around our neighborhood was just exhilarating! I snapped a shot of my feet – just taking steps. I felt great. The follow-up appointment was rather short and to the point. The doctor told me to move around as much as possible; he thought returning to school after the Spring Break would be a great idea. So in that spirit ~
- Our daughter (AJ) and I went shopping. In truth, she helped me to look for my clothes. Before getting into the dressing room, I took shot of us looking into the mirror She was so helpful to hold clothes and give me such pleasant company. It was fun!
- Afterward we had a great lunch in the car. It was a rainy day – so had picnic lunch inside!
- Our son (JJ) loves Legos. He’s been singing the “Could we go to the Lego store?” song for a while now. Because of my injury, our family’s normal outings have been non-existent. We were already in the area, so we headed for The Mall. I decided to walk around to just two stores to shop for AJ’s clothes. In one particular store, we noticed how the dressing room doors were transparent glass. I could see the worried look on AJ as she entered….As the door shut the transparent glass became frosted. Voila – love the convenience of modern technology. (I can’t help myself, but ask, what happens when there’s no electricity? I guess people would not go in and try on things!?) Before long, I got too tired and needed to go home. I called my husband.
- Our final stop at The Mall: The Apple Store. Why? Just because…! LOL! The Apple store is one of the busiest stores at this mall. I was waiting for hubs and JJ to finish looking up somethings and saw a familiar face. I saw one of my students there and had a pleasant chat with him. (I think @kellypower visited one too, although different location!
- When we got home, we just chilled. JJ built a small Lego kit he just received. He loves role-playing. I snapped a picture of his playing. Sometimes, the way objects are placed tell the whole story. It was one of those moments!
- Baked apple pie dessert. I wish I had baked it from scratch (one of these days….). It was a frozen Sarah Lee’s Apple pie. As the box promised, the pie was just so delicious! It was perfect with Haagan-Daz vanilla ice cream.
- After dinner, we hung out snuggling on our bed. Kids really are getting too big for four of us to fit. But I will thankfully take all the days we can still enjoy this part of life.
- One of the many laughs in our house are made by our kids. They decided to show their love for another (this came out of “why not to fight with sibling” talk with us) by making a surprise card. They drew pictures and put this together:
Sentiments were: “What can I say? I love you! (family way)”
“Hope you enjoy the card! It’s my way of showing love to my favorite lil bro in the world!”
They even exchanged the card by counting “1,2,3 show!”. It was rather cute.
10. Kids had gone to sleep. But I couldn’t. Maybe it was all the activities of the day OR the sugar from the pie or ice cream. My eyes were wide-open no matter how I tried to sleep. So I grabbed my headphones and scrolled to listen to some music. (At this point, you might guess that I would have listened to Steve Winwood’s song, Back in the High Life. But I didn’t. I love pop/rock songs, but what really resonates with me deeply is what I’m about to write.) I decided to listen to Brahms’ choral works, starting with one of my favorites, Vier Quartette, op.92. I closed my eyes, listening to beautiful balance of a great choir and piano. I love Brahms. I love his music for lush harmony, word-painting, and most importantly for expressing what I cannot express with words. I could have really loved living in the Romantic Era, reading and talking to Goethe, or Schiller, attending Soirees where Chopin or Schumann would share their new composition, marveling at Delacroix’s paintings….Here is one of my favorite choral pieces. I wish I could let you listen to the music…
Der graue Nebel tropft so still
Herab auf Feld und Wald und Heide,
Als ob der Himmel weinen will
In übergroßem Leide.
Die Blumen wollen nicht mehr blühn,
Die Vöglein schweigen in den Hainen,
Es starb sogar das letzte Grün,
Da mag er auch wohl weinen.
Translated by Derek Yeld
The grey mist falls so softly
Upon the field and wood and heath,
As if heaven were weeping
In most grievous pain.
The flowers will bloom no more,
The little birds are silent in the groves,
Even the last green has died;
So it may well weep.
I don’t know what kind of life I would have had if I was born during the 19th century. I could imagine living the life in that era as dramatic, romantic, or tragic as possible. But I can’t help but think how blessed I am to be living now. To be able to see, to hear, to understand, to question, to learn, to share, to laugh like a child, to help, to teach, to enjoy, to wrestle with, to feel, to create, to hurt, to forgive, to hope for, to live for, and to grow ~ to experience all of these is a tremendous blessing.
So the day with the theme of indulgence has found me at a grateful place.
What are you thankful for today?
This is my very first blog post.
OK, that isn’t entirely true. I used to blog, but quit a while back.
What got me to blog again?
Yesterday marked my 5th day of not being at school. On the mornings of Saturday, February 27th, I went to school for Middle School musical rehearsal. The morning started with the news of 8.8 earthquake in Chile and impending tsunami approaching the Pacific. The morning was gray all around. And it was flurrying – again. I did not feel good about everything that morning. But because I needed to go, I gathered my things so that I would have time to write some comments that were due on Monday.
An hour went by fast as I sat and typed away. I’m a slow writer… 10 o’clock approached so I headed out for the rehearsal. I parked the car and grabbed my bags. I said hello to students getting out of the cars. Saying more hellos to parents…
Not even one second later – I slipped on some thick ice. See, as a klutz, I’m used to falling down. I pick myself up quickly and then do a left-right sweep to check if there were others witnessing my embarrassment. So as always, I tried picking myself up. I couldn’t. All I felt was excruciating pain. I groaned out loud like I’ve never done. Next however minutes seemed like eternity. I was helped by three kind souls who did see what happened. I was out of breath, crying, groaning. So helpless. Leaning against the wall, waiting for the ambulance to come, all I wanted to do was to talk to my husband. He assured me he’ll meet me at the ambulance. He told me to hang on.
His voice, so sweet and soothing.
Next 30 minutes were a blur. I kept thinking, “Why now?” “How am I going to help my students get ready?” “How am I going to a dinner tonight?” “I better shake out of this…fast!”
The next 7 hours in the ER were filled with visits to X-ray rooms, waiting time, visit to the CAT scan room, more waiting time, being monitored by 2 different nurses and 2 trauma doctors. The first doctor seemed like he was ready to release me. When he saw that I couldn’t roll over to get off the bed or stand, he asked another doctor for second opinion. This man just told me that I needed to be admitted to the hospital. I was admitted that night to room 3221 in the intensive care. I stayed there until Monday and then moved to room 4006 on the non-monitored floor.
Even after giving birth to our two children, I had only stayed two days at the hospital.
This time around I stayed for 4 days. I was on heavy medication, could not walk, couldn’t move. All of it was like a dream.
Now I’m home. First two days, I couldn’t walk upstairs to our room. I’m still very limited to what I can do by myself. I’m learning to take each day to relearn to walk, to regain the strength, and to be “normal” again. Having much time on my hands, I’m faced to make my once wishful blogging thought into reality.
Second reason to start blogging: My PLN (Professional Learning Network).
Thanks to my school’s initiative to integrate technology into curriculum, I opened a Twitter account to use for professional development. I had no idea that my PLN would become the place where continuous professional development would occur. I have been challenged to think beyond what I know. I have been reading my colleagues’ blogs, reading different posts, and engaging in #edchats. The learning is simply amazing. I’m amazed to know so many colleagues through Twitter who care so much about how to be better teachers.
So I’ve been inspired. I’ve been challenged to think and teach better. I’m learning to share with others what I have been learning.
Here’s to the good and the bad that come my way. Good or bad, they are my stories. Thanks for being on this journey with me.