Life

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. The seasons have changed from summer, to fall, to rain, to winter, to rain (oh, the rain this year…), to spring, to rain, and now, summer again. Suddenly I’m a year older and the reality that my children are a year closer to moving away from home scares me more than ever before. In truth, the past year has changed me. Some of this shift was because of that natural progress that occurs as we go through life. Some of it was brought on by circumstances out of my control, which altered my perspective of both myself and humanity.

As you’ve likely asserted, I’m not a reliable blogger. I’m sporadic at best, preferring only to blog when I feel inspired, rather than sticking to a schedule which readers can rely on. I can’t handle blogging to a schedule- truthfully, it stresses me out. My brain is always running a thousand miles an hour, and even now as I write this, I’m thinking about all that I still need to get done this weekend. After all, laundry doesn’t fold itself. Regardless, I commit to forming an imprint on my couch for the time being so as to update you on the happenings of my life.

On Family…

c and m

My husband and I will celebrate our 21st anniversary this July. He’s asked me repeatedly what we should do for our anniversary. My answer is likely a let down for him as I just want to live in the moment. He’s a planner and meticulous paperwork pile creator, striving to organize details with the precision of an event coordinator, likely a side effect of over two decades of military training. I, on the other hand, just want to “wing it”. I like to go for hikes, drink coffee in the early hours of the morning, drive to destinations we’ve never been, eat at restaurants that serve gluten-free food and cheap Merlot. I prefer to sit in a lawn chair with a good book than push my way through a crowd or watch an overpriced action-packed movie in a theater. Maybe that’s why we work as a couple- I am the introvert to his extrovert, the recycler to his pile creator, the smile to his untimely jokes.

With that said, I remain faithfully organized. With only a half-day left of school, I am ready to turn off my computer and leave the moment my students depart after the final bell has rung for the school year. I can make dinner, correct papers, and pay bills simultaneously, while also corresponding with classmates to plan our reunion this summer. I read novels while at baseball games and remain unable to cook when the kitchen isn’t clean. I’m not sure where my organized brain came from, but I’m forever grateful for the ability to plan lessons, coach track, write a chapter and pull weeds all before sitting down at the television to watch a FRIENDS rerun.

My best gift, however, remains being a mom. As of Monday, I will have a junior, sophomore and 5th grader. My children continue to amaze me with their athleticism and intellect. What I’m most proud of, however, is their respect and empathy for others. When I willingly signed up for this whole parenting thing, I seriously hit the jackpot. Not all days are easy. There are epic eye rolls, arguments, and more than enough morning dramas, but overall, I couldn’t be prouder and I am so grateful for every day spent with my kids.

On Teaching…

flowers from mason

This school year has been tough, but also rewarding. The two constants I tell my students are to never give up and to be awesome. More than ever before, I’ve had to adhere to my own advice. From moving to a new school, teaching a new grade level, learning two new curriculums, and having an extremely rough first week, I can honestly say, I couldn’t have been given a better class. The twenty-six students I was blessed to teach this year are amazing. Yes, it was a lot of work to get them to the next level, but I will never forget this group of students or how they cared about each other.

A couple of months ago, I was asked by the district curriculum team to be filmed as a model and example for instructional engagement strategies. Intimidating- yes. Overwhelming- most definitely. Awkward- totally. They sent me the video yesterday, along with a nice thank you note. I don’t know if I’ll ever watch it because seeing myself on film is painful. Performing on stage or in front of the camera was never my thing, however, it was nice to be recognized for my work. This summer, I plan to focus on student growth mindset strategies, while also serving on the literacy curriculum framework writing team and completing my English Language Arts endorsement.

On Writing…

I finished another contemporary young adult novel, which is currently in the hands of my literary agent. Publishing is a hard business, which moves at a glacial pace. In case you’re wondering; no, my other two novels have not sold yet. I remain committed to one day seeing my novels on the bookstore shelves, or as the market continues evolving, the Amazon website.

Here’s a sneak peek of my new novel, currently titled, Playing with the Boys:

diamonds are a girls best friend

        The ball stings the palm of my hand when it smacks against my glove. The batter winces at the ump’s call as I smile faintly, reminding myself that we aren’t done yet. One more pitch.

            The batter recovers and moves back into the box, tapping his bat on the plate, once and then a second time. The dirt from his cleats rises, clinging to my knee pads as the pitcher winds up. The ball crosses the plate right into my glove.

            “Strike! You’re out!”

            I stand and give my pitcher a high five before yanking off my facemask and helmet. I pretend to ignore the stares, the laughs, the comments coming from the other team’s dugout. No one cares how I played. No one cares that we shut them out. They only care about what they see in front of them, as if they’ve just realized what my team has known all along.

            The best catcher on the field is a girl.

On Reading…

 

The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins.

My verdict: This book was unputdownable (is that even a word?). I read it on the airplane to CA, while we were waiting to depart the plane, while in line at the car rental place, while waiting for the rental bus, while in line at the hotel, in the hotel room, and while my family waited for me to finish so we could go to dinner. It was that addictive.

Everything, Everything and The Sun is also a Star, by Nicola Yoon.

I loved these diverse YA novels. Highly recommend!

I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson

This was a fantastic young adult book about siblings, with an awesome voice.

I’m currently reading Love and Gelato, by Jenna Evans Welch. It’s another book with a fantastic voice and the fact that it’s set in Italy is a bonus. There are so many other books coming out that I can’t wait to devour.

On February 12, the Day that Changed Everything…

p hospital

I never imagined how things would change when I took my son to his select baseball practice on the Sunday afternoon of February 12. I remember dropping him off, gassing up the car, running errands and then stopping at home to see my daughters. Then I called out that I was heading to pick up their brother and would be back in a half an hour. I returned home four days later.

You see, my son was struck in the temple with a baseball toward the end of his practice. As most athletes do, he shook it off and continued playing. When he came out to the car, he was crying (not a typical reaction from him) and said he got hit in the head. I figured he had a concussion and took him straight to urgent care. After waiting for an hour to get in, they assessed him and sent him to the ER. A CT scan later revealed he had a skull fracture and was actively bleeding in both the epidural and subdural layers of his brain. In just those few short hours, his brain had already shifted and we were told his condition was becoming life threatening.

He underwent emergency surgery, spent four days in the hospital, two weeks at home letting his brain rest, but has recovered remarkably well. This experience, however, has changed me. The thought of almost losing my son weighs down on me every day, and I have to actively push aside the what ifs and focus on the moments we have together instead.  I don’t know if my son will ever play baseball again, but I do know that the fact that he’s stayed so positive, never felt sorry for himself, and maintained a 4.0 with a traumatic brain injury is amazing. He’s shown me how truly strong a person can be when faced with extreme adversity. He’s not defined by the scar bearing the thirty staples he had in his skull. He’s proving, rather, that even at fifteen years old, he’s stronger than I’ve ever personally felt.

What he’s given me, and what his experience has shown me, is that each day holds the possibility to do amazing things. I no longer live for the weekend. Yes, Tuesdays still seem to be seventy-five hours long, but there’s so much time left in each day to just be happy. To forget about the ugliness in our world. To say I love you to the people who matter most. To forgive those who’ve hurt us. To believe anything is possible. To just live.

P baseball 13

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear Missy

Last summer, my sister invited me to write a guest post for her blog, http://joyfulmysteries.me. After an obscene amount of procrastination over what to post on my part, I settled on writing a letter to my teenage self, similar to the popular blog, Dear Teen Me, http://dearteenme.com/. I wasn’t sure what I’d tell my teen self if given the chance. Was there a way to prepare that naive girl from Montana for the world to come? Probably not because even if I tried, she’d likely not believe it. I could, however, try to convince her that even when things seem overwhelming, they’ll turn out okay. I could also tell her to enjoy every moment of every day because before she knows it she’ll look back and wonder where the years have gone.

Looking back at my teen years, I tend to see myself as rather average. I wasn’t one of the beautiful blonde twins portrayed in the Sweet Valley High books I read, filled with outlandish drama, betrayal, and young love. I wasn’t a rebel or a rule breaker, nor was I the scholar or editor of the school newspaper. I wasn’t voted best eyes, dressed, or most likely to do anything. I was, simply, me. And in a world before the internet, social media, cell phones, digital photos, text messaging, and YouTube, that was okay.

What I do know is that I was once a girl who didn’t quite care if the dishes were done immediately following a meal and who only made her bed about once a week, a girl who at the time, didn’t appreciate the stars dotting the sky in her hometown, but would miss them every single day after saying goodbye and moving away.

If I close my eyes, I can still see that girl, the one I used to be walking through the halls of my high school, sporting Keds and stonewashed jeans. Would she recognize me sitting at her future home in a Mariner’s t-shirt and staring out at a cloudy Western Washington sky? Probably not, but here goes…

Dear Missy,

Okay, so here’s the thing…I know you tried to get rid of the Missy moniker when you started a new school freshman year to make yourself seem older, but it didn’t work because once everyone found out it was your nickname, it stuck. And that’s totally okay because it’s who you are and you’ll come to recognize that when the people who knew you growing up call you Melissa, it sounds foreign on their tongues, and you’ll kind of hate it because to them, you were always Missy, a name that somehow becomes familiar and comforting, like a warm blanket wrapped over your shoulders on a cold, winter night.

You’ll live and breathe basketball in high school, but will never play on a team again. I know this thought makes you sad and that lump that grows in the base of your throat when you are about to cry is likely burning now, but you’ll be okay. I promise.

Your heart will be broken your junior year and although you knew this relationship wouldn’t last, it will hurt worse than you ever imagined possible. Although you’ll find it hard to believe it wasn’t your fault and you’ll want to apologize and beg him to love you as much as you love him, don’t do it. He isn’t the one, and when you see him years later at a class reunion, you’ll hug him and feel genuinely happy to see him, but you won’t love him, nor will you regret dating him because he was an important part of your life. You will, however, regret lingering on the hurt and not giving other guys a chance the remainder of high school. Ditch that last shred of hope. Date the baseball player, tell the guy you’ve had a crush on since freshman year how you really feel. Take chances and don’t let past hurts hold you back.

Consequently, and further proving that some things are meant to be, you’ll fall in love in college. He’ll be the person who makes you laugh every single day and will be a great dad to your future children. He’ll be the dreamer while you’re the realist. He’ll be your best friend and before you know it, you’ll have survived two military deployments, infant colic, differing taste in movies, and will be preparing for your twentieth wedding anniversary.

You’ll get to see Bon Jovi in concert, twice. This won’t entirely make up for the fact that you weren’t allowed to attend the Slippery When Wet concert because you were too young, but it will help. Although the disappointment of not being able to see Jon Bon Jovi fly though the air like in the “Livin on a Prayer” video will linger forever, much like the Aqua Net in an 80’s locker room.

Tom Cruise will make you go, hmmm…but you’ll still secretly watch “Cocktail” whenever it’s on.

You’ll be diagnosed with celiac disease. I know this makes no sense as you have no idea what it is right now, but all the aches and pains you experienced after diligently carb-loading before a big race will one day make sense.

Spend more time with your family and don’t worry if you skip a night out with friends. You might not believe me now, but there will come a time when you’ll miss your family every single day and you won’t remember that party long ago that you just couldn’t miss.

You’ll still cry when you’re embarrassed and you’ll get embarrassed when you cry. It’s a double-edged sword, really.

The bangs. Where do I begin with the bangs? There is no need to take a butane curling iron camping so that your hair is styled in the mountains. Seriously. One day you’ll look back at pictures and even the fact that most other girls had the same curls and styled bangs that you did won’t cushion the blow that it was a really, truly awful waste of time and products.

George Clooney will become a really big deal, but you’ll still see him as the handy-man on “The Facts of Life.”

You’ll never be an artist so don’t even bother with the stick figures. One day you’ll be a fairly decent writer, though, so keep at it.

Speaking of writing, you’ll experience rejection. A lot of it. But the stories in your head will continue surfacing so to avoid becoming a habitual daydreamer, put the words onto paper and create a world others might find interesting.

You’ll become a teacher who loves her job. I know, right? Shocked me too.

There will be more Star Wars movies. You’ll still roll your eyes whenever Luke Skywalker whines in Episode 4 and you’ll become disheartened with the franchise when the prequels are released. Take my advice—skip the prequels and wait for “Star Wars, The Force Awakens”. It’ll be worth the wait. You’ll also secretly enjoy watching “Space Balls,” although you’ll never admit how hard it makes you laugh.

You’ll look back at pictures and wish you were still that thin even though you know at the time you wanted to lose five pounds.

You’ll enjoy a television show about zombies.

In the future, you’ll experience loss. Some of these losses will be so personal and painful that even now, you won’t be able to write or talk about them. You’ll also be okay.

You like to take care of others. You also like to be in charge. You’re not very good at delegating, although you’re working on it. Organization is kind of your thing. You hate clutter and become overwhelmed by excessive paperwork. You also hate dirty microwaves. And the smell of vanilla. You love chocolate and popcorn and to this day, detest the song, “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” You hold grudges, but eventually forgive because you finally realize how silly the grudge you’ve been holding onto is. You love traditions, wine, the mountains, your oldest and dearest friends, and your family. You’re an introvert who finds it hard to spark conversations with people you don’t know. Some people view you as standoffish because of that trait, but it’s just the way you are and that’s one reason you married an extrovert.

You’ll never sing in public and are a pop culture junkie, although you’ll never really be a fan of Ferris Bueller or reality television, and you’ll always believe “Say Anything” is one of the greatest movies and love stories ever written.

Don’t worry about what you perceive others to think about you. Try not to stress if you don’t get invited to a party. Stand up for your children and never forget to say “I love you” to those who matter the most.

So, put down the curling iron and go live. You won’t regret it.

Love,

Melissa  

Missy high school
Before my student council speech when I ran for secretary unopposed. Luckily, I won.
missy 1
Camping at Mount Rainier with my family. Killing it with the bangs.