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Friday, December 30, 2005

Its The Weekend 

I won't be doing a roundup this weekend due to my travel plans. I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday weekend. Be careful out there! Posting will resume in a couple of days!

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

New Year 

As the new year approaches I think what 2006 has in store for me and those I care about. I'm not one to make resolutions, but I do have some things to look forward to and some possible changes in different areas of my life. There are those things I am confident will happen in the new year, things I'm hopeful that will happen, and other things that will probably have to wait yet another year.

I look back on 2005 the way many of you do. I made some progress in many areas, had my share of triumphs, and some failures as well. Was it the best year of my life? Probably not. Was it better than 2004? Immeasurably better. I worked through a lot of grief in 2005 and feel stronger for it. I continued to grow in my professional life, becoming more confident and assured in my second year with my employer. I was honored by my peers in my very first year on the job. The kids became more settled in their life here, making friends, enjoying their new schools and being around my family for the first time in many years. Patrick is very comfortable in junior high school and Aubree is becoming a fixture on the honor roll. I became more open to dating and exploring relationships in the second half of the year. This was a year of growth and change, a time of of coming to grips with the past, and for making the future brighter.

Now the new year lies ahead, beckoning me to charge ahead. No longer in survival mode, but trying to build a future I can be proud of. My career looks bright and it is possible that changes will happen in the near future. Like so many things in life, this wouldn't have been possible without the support of others. I have people in my life who are interested in my career growth and they have helped me tremendously. Isn't it great when people see something in you that you aren't sure that you see yourself?

My kids are so much better adjusted than they were as 2005 began. My daughter doesn't cry almost every night like she did a year ago. You can just see the confidence grow in her and see her maturing into a young woman. She too has come to grips with the past and done so without the anger that can follow such a traumatic shakeup in a person's life. I'm so very proud of her. Patrick is having perhaps his best school year ever. He too is slowly maturing into a young man and while he can still do maddening things, he is a joy. He is able to express his thoughts and feelings in a way that he couldn't not that long ago. I'm very proud of him as well.

I began this year trying to date, but my heart wasn't really in it. I didn't want anyone to get too close, wasn't taking any chances, and in the process confused or hurt those who were unfortunate to come in contact with me. I wanted to be "normal" and "over it" and my pride couldn't stand to admit that I wasn't. The hiatus I took for several months from dating was the best thing I could've done. I needed the time to come to grips with my life and where it was going. I began to date again and let things happen more naturally. Out of all that came a relationship that I'm very happy in and that I have high hopes for.

A number of the people who read these words played a big role in helping me survive 2005 and to get where I am now. I won't try to list them but you certainly know who you are. I think about winning the "Most Inspirational Blog" in the Okie Blog Awards and realize that I am the one who was inspired. I've been inspired by your friendship, your love, and your support.

I think it took 2005 to realize that I was a lucky guy. In 2006 I plan to roll those lucky dice.

To Auld Lang Syne my friends. To Auld Lang Syne. I wish the best for all of you in the coming new year.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Midweek Meanderings 

When you're on vacation midweek doesn't quite have the same meaning. I've enjoyed having some time off to spend with the kids, relax, and do some things I haven't had time to do. I know that its a LONG stretch until Spring Break!

We've been watching a lot of movies around here. Just in the last few days we've watched "The Fantastic Four", "The Recruit", "Alexander", "The Mask of Zorro", and "Clockstoppers". Blockbuster has been enjoying our patronage quite a bit.

I had to laugh at my dad's reference in his Christmas letter to his health. He refers to asking his doctor about "wine, women, and song". The doctors reply? "Well, you can hum along a little bit."

I was glad that trash day was today. Christmas gifts and all the boxes, wrapping etc. had my big trash container overflowing.

Aubree received a total of seven video games(computer, GameBoy, or Playstation) for Christmas. She just switches between playing video games and playing with her new dollhouse. Another of her gifts was the new Carrie Underwood CD. I think I've heard her singing to "Jesus Take The Wheel" about fifty times in the last few days. I did get a kick out of one of the songs on the CD which refers to Checotah, OK, the place where I began my teaching career.

Both the kids had fun spending the $50 Wal Mart gift certificates they received as a gift. It doesn't take long for a kid to go through fifty bucks these days.

I couldn't motivate myself to go to the early morning after-Christmas sales. I've done my early morning shopping thing for the year. I know the deals are good but I can't persuade myself to buy Christmas ornaments, wrapping, etc. the day AFTER Christmas.

Patrick has been sick the last couple of days. He was running a temperature last night and complained of a sore throat today. The thing is that Patrick never gets sick. He just never does. He hasn't missed a day of school in years due to illness. He also doesn't seem to get cavities. If he doesn't feel better tomorrow I'll have to take him to the doctor for the first time in many years.

We plan on taking a nice drive to Texas this weekend to spend the New Year. Should be fun!

So how is YOUR week going?

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Life After Love 

Aubree and I were playing around with karaoke and music videos on Christmas morning. I clapped as she belted out the lyrics to Cher's "Life After Love".

"I need time to move on. I need love to feel strong"

I think about those of you out there who have only been in love one time. You met your sweetheart in high school, college, or in your working career. You married and settled down and never looked at another man or woman again. In some sense I'm jealous of you. You found on the first shot what many of us seem to have searched for forever. You haven't experienced life after love. You've just experienced love and that is a powerful thing.

I've been in love more than once and that can be an odd feeling. None of the women I've loved has passed away. They are out there somewhere living a life that is apart from me. I've done the life after love thing a couple of times now. Is it odd to say that the experiences have both strengthened and weakened me? When you really love someone and lose them something happens to you. A small part of you dies and a hole is left.

You fill that hole with something. Sex, booze, drugs, religion, food, your kids.....something. Maybe a combination of somethings. How you go about filling that hole is everything. In my own case I've been wounded but am starting to feel stronger than ever before. I'm a better father than I was before and I'm better in my job too. I've found a passion for things that I once took for granted. I'm less inhibited, more outspoken, and less comfortable. One of the things that happens when you're with someone for a long time is that you inevitably take things for granted. When you lose that you feel less secure. Everything takes on a greater importance than it did before.

Events like death or divorce make you take stock in everything that you always took for granted before. While painful, this doesn't have to be a bad thing. You examine your values, your belief system, and the things that always seemed to matter. You decide what changes you want to make in your life and reaffirm the things that are part of you. Its almost easier to make changes. Its one thing to say that you need to lose 30 pounds. Its another to say that some things are a part of who you are and that you needn't be ashamed of them. You find someone who can accept you for who you are or you consign yourself to being alone.

That is a key. I don't think you can truly be a partner with someone else unless you've made peace with yourself. Happiness can't be acquired from someone else. It comes from within and can only be enhanced by finding someone special to share it with. This has honestly been my hardest struggle...learning to love myself and be happy with who I am so that I can share it with someone. Each day is a victory, each moment a triumph, and risking myself again makes me feel alive. You rebuild yourself slowly and you move on. You find out that there is life after love.

Not only that, there is love after love.

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Window To The Soul 

I was amused reading this article about the president and his Ipod playlist. Various music industry experts comment on his selections and what they mean. Remind me never to run for president. I don't think I would enjoy that level of scrutiny. Do we really need to analyze why the president might have The Knack's "My Sharona" on his IPOD? But I was intrigued by a reference to musical preferencs as a "window to the soul".

First I thought about how grateful I was to have an IPOD so that I could actually have a playlist on it. Then I wondered about what my selections could mean about me. My first thought is that one of those experts would label me as hopelessly schizophrenic. My playlists seem to have no rhyme or reason.

A random look through the list reveals these songs and what I think they might mean about my psyche:

1. Frank Sinatra's "I've Got You Under My Skin" - Does this mean I secretly aspire to wear a zoot suit and do a little ballroom swing dancing?
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2. Rossington Collins Band "Don't Misunderstand Me" - This could be a cry from my inner child to be truly understood. Or it could be the opposite. Maybe I don't understand anyone else.
3. Pink Floyd's "Run Like Hell" - Maybe I just want to run away. Maybe there is a jealous husband chasing after me. Maybe there is a one hour sale on IPOD accessories. Maybe I'm trying to avoid my problems. This one is open to many interpretations!
4. Garbage's "The World Is Not Enough" - This could mean that I'm just a greedy bastard.
5. Elvin Bishop's "Fooled Around and Fell In Love" - I'm thinking this one has a strong autobiographical bent. Of course I have fooled around before and NOT fell in love, but let's not quibble here.
6. Don Henley's "On My Wedding Day" - This could be revealing some mascochistic tendencies.
7. Collective Soul's "The World I Know" - It could be that I've mastered the very fine art of laughing and crying at the same time. Maybe I've accepted my world as it exists. Yeah, thats it.
So I walk up on high
And I step to the edge
To see my world below.
And I laugh at myself
As the years roll down.
’cause it’s the world I know.
It’s the world I know.

8. 3 Doors Down's "Landing in London" - I think this expresses my adventurous spirit and my long held desire to travel to Europe. Its either that or I just like a cool song where Bob Seger sings with 3 Doors Down. Nah, it must reveal something.
9. The Cars "Let The Good Times Roll" - An expression of my inner desire to put my difficult past behind me, embrace new love, and get on with my life. Either that or I just want to party.
10. Great White's "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" - Oh geez, lets don't even go there! Also, I've been bitten more than once and been shy more than twice.
11. Neil Sedaka's "Calendar Girl" - This can only mean one thing. I have a secret desire to have one of those blogger babe calendars that Chicky Babe is putting together. My perving side revealed at last.
12. Marvin Gaye's "Lets Get It On" - I don't think this requires much analysis. Here's to bringing in the New Year in the right way.
13. Kid Rock's "Cowboy" - I'm not sure about this one. I don't own a pair of boots, a cowboy hat, Wrangler jeans, or a shirt with pearlish buttons. Maybe its buried DEEP in there somewhere. Yeee Hawww!
14. Elvis Presley's "In The Ghetto" - I'm thinking this reflects a fear of where I'll end up living if I don't resist all these after Christmas sales.
15. The Shirelle's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" - Well.....will you?

There you have it, a deep and revealing look into my inner psyche. Now I REALLY know I shouldn't run for president.

I wonder if this works with my DVD movies. Lets start with "The Godfather". Tell me what you think and I'll make you an offer you can't refuse.

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

So This Is Christmas 

And what have you done? We certainly had a busy Christmas day. I awoke at 7:20 this morning to two kids saying, "DAD! WAKE UP! Its Christmas!" I sat half asleep on the couch and watched them go through their stockings and unwrap their gifts. They swapped stocking items with each other. Beef jerky for sour candy. Pez for Starburst. Glow necklace for modeling clay.

I made a last minute run last night for a stocking stuffer idea that popped into my head. I was driving down the residential street looking at all the homes lit up by Christmas decorations. After several blocks I realized that there were tears in my eyes. I wasn't thinking about anything in particular but felt suddenly very emotional. I hadn't really been depressed on Christmas Eve like I'd feared. I'd spent the entire day with the kids and we had a blast. I started to wipe the tears from my eyes but then decided just to let them flow. I pulled into the parking lot at Walgreens (which was packed with people) and dried my eyes before going in. As I stood in line with my purchases I noticed the young couple in front of me with a small baby. The baby kept looking at me and I picked up a "dancing Santa" from the shelf and pushed the button. The baby's eyes lit up and a huge smile crossed his cherubic little face. We jammed to the dancing Santa and I chatted with the young couple for a few minutes. When I walked out of the store all was right with the world.

I came home and read the kids "The Night Before Christmas" and tucked each of them in. They couldn't WAIT to go to sleep. Christmas Eve night is the easiest night of the year for me to get them to bed. I made myself a drink, Aubree had carefully set out milk and cookies for Santa and included a note:

Dear Mr. Santa Claus,

My name is Aubree and all I want for Christmas is everyone from all over the world to have a very very Merry Christmas! Enjoy your milk and cookies. Love ya Mr. Claus.

Aubree


(Not that she didn't mind the slew of presents she got)

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We got dressed and drove over to my ex brother-in-law's house. I get along well with my first wife's family these days and we had an enjoyable time visiting. The kids like having the chance to see that side of their family. They scored more presents, gift cards, and other goodies.

Then it was time to head over to my brother's house, a forty minute drive from here. My family was there as well as my sister-in-law's family. We opened a ton of gifts, ate a great meal, and shared a lot of laughs. Patrick received his favorite gift...a telescope! He's been outside this evening looking at the stars. Aubree received a very special gift from my brother Matt. He built her a dollhouse, a three story beauty, constructed very sturdily. I know from looking at it that it took him a great many hours to build. Aubree is totally enthralled with it.

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We had a wonderful Christmas, enjoyed each other's company, and were surrounded by wonderful people. I couldn't ask for any more than that.

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Night Before Christmas 

Merry Christmas everyone!

this is an audio post - click to play

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Weekend Roundup 12/23-24 

The Christmas weekend is upon us and I think we’re ready for it around here. The kids have been eyeballing those presents under the tree for weeks and they are so ready to rip that wrapping paper off!

So what has the blogworld been up to this week?

Julie didn’t get a very nice present at work. I liked the present that Lime wants to give me.!

Greek Shadow had the opportunity to play golf. T. Marie had a very quiet day at work.

Teresa had some Christmas wishes for her blogfriends. Colleen had some thoughts on religion and spirituality.

Irina was wondering when its ok to lie. Karen was wondering why she decided to go to Wal Mart. (Merry Christmas at Wal Mart)

Stationery Queen shows us some pictures of her Christmas tree. Sally shows us what loving your sibling is all about.

Want a white Christmas? Go pay Jerry a visit. Want to know why Joan’s mood feels so much better now? Go find out.

Thomai explains why this is a challenging time of year for her. Phyllis explains how Elliott is trying to take over her blog.

Stacey remembers a long ago love and it makes this time of year difficult for her. Trusty Getto remembers years spent in Denver.

Sanora wonders about polar bears and penguins. DL wonders if she is weird or just eccentric.

Dawn had to take her husband to the E.R

Aka Monty was a bad girl. Carol isn’t a weird girl but she does have some weird habits!

Margaret shares a photo album of her daily life. Phoenix shares her holiday wishes for everyone.

Michael had some pre Christmas musings. Mercy has a review of her 2005.

The Funky Cowboy is enjoying a few days off. Restless Angel is ready for this holiday to be over.

Keb writes a Christmas letter. Kim writes about her snowy Christmas.

Sarah discusses separation between blog and work. Hillbilly Mom discusses some wild old days with fellow faculty members.

Inky is going home for the holidays. Scorpy is getting ready to move.

Erin wonders about the difference between a porn actress and a prostitute. Buffi wonders if she can manage the togetherness of having her parents in the house for two weeks!

Walker remembers a rather beefy Christmas. Janet remembers some of her favorite Christmas music.

Joe had the flu but still enjoyed some holiday fun. Kathy had a holiday class party to organize.

Monica discusses the different sides of herself. Jennifer discusses some of her weird habits.

Pearl shares some poetry. Veronica shars three generations keeping holiday traditions alive.

Mary Lou has a Christmas meme. Ginger has presents but they aren’t wrapped.

Christine shares some poopy thoughts. Vickie shares some of her Christmas thoughts.

Penny was so mad she could scream. Wendy was in an argument and blogged it.

Annabel is going to be a bridesmaid. Chicky Babe is creating a female bloggers calendar.

Pat shares a meaning of the twelve days of Christmas. Dorothy shares her experience with last minute shoppers.

Cliffhanger Jones met with the new boss. MamaKBear tells us what she’s done.

Susan is going to a duck race. Jazzy is having a quiet Christmas.

Avik points out that trees are not always environmentally friendly. I’d like to point out that Feisty Girl is running ahead of schedule.

We’ll see Cheryl after Christmas. We might’ve seen John cry if we saw him watching “The Polar Express”.

Janine met an ugly person. Jack is blogging with reckless abandon.

Redneck Diva hit a jackpot on Lady’s Night! Sleeping Mommy wanted to hit whatever bug that made her whole family sick.

Steph shares the only childhood Christmas she remembers. Trick shares her thoughts on dating.

I wish you all the merriest of Christmases and a wonderful holiday weekend. Do your best to find the small joy in this season. I certainly will.

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Aaah, Shopping! 

I spent all afternoon doing the last of my Christmas shopping. Except for one gift that I promised Aubree she could help select, I think I'm done. Isn't that a good feeling...to feel like you've got it all accomplished?

Some observations from a day of shopping:
That was fun, but I think I can wait till next year to do it again.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

MIdweek Meanderings 

Its Wednesday and not a minute too soon! Today was my last day at work until we return on Jan. 3rd. You've gotta love a Wednesday that feels like a Friday. I've tried not be jealous of my own kids who have been out of school all week and spending their days at my parent's house.

Its time to polish off the Christmas shopping. I have the kids taken care of but need to do some shopping for the adults in my life. Not a problem. After all, I do like to shop!

I have a career decision to make in the coming weeks. Security and what you are comfortable with compared to uncertainty with a chance for greater growth?

I looked at the two kids (a boy and a girl) who got into a fight at school today and said, "what happened to peace on Earth and goodwill toward men?" The boy retorted, "she's not a man."

The funny thing about middle school is that many of the girls are tougher than most of the boys. The girl was the decisive winner in their little fight. She had to be pulled off of him and she landed all the punches. He didn't get a single one in. Not only did he get suspended for fighting but he got whipped by a girl.

Aubree and I were watching the movie "Troy" on TV last night. I was explaining to her the custom of placing coins over the eyes of the dead to pay for the boatman that would carry them to the "other side". She shook her head and said, "Dad, you'd think they'd let them float across on that boat for free. After all, they just died!"

Some of the weather forecasts say that will be around 60 degrees here on Christmas Day. I remember several Christmases like that as a child. It just doesn't seem right, opening presents and then running around outside in short sleeves. I can dream of a white Christmas all I want, but it doesn't look like its going to happen.

Did I mention that I was OFF WORK until January 3rd?

I have some reading/research/writing to do over the break and I have some projects around the house that I've promised myself that I would do. Be responsible or be lazy? That is the question.

So how is YOUR week going?

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

God and Schools 

"Hey Mr. S", the girls said as they ran up to me at lunch. "That guy over there always has his Bible with him at lunch. Isn't that illegal?" I shook my head and they looked at me questioningly. I said, "to the contrary, he's exercising his rights under the Constitution. I see other students reading books of their choice at lunch. He is certainly allowed to read the Bible if he chooses." The girls were surprised. They thought they'd discovered a violation of the law. Rarely has there been anything more misunderstood than the relationship between faith and public schools. They didn't understand it and I think a lot of people don't.

When I was an elementary school student we opened every day of class with a prayer. The teacher led the prayer, we did the flag salute, sat down, and did our schoolwork. It was many years later when I realized that we were violating a ruling by the Supreme Court. That decision and others that followed have been a source of huge controversy during my years in education.

The Supreme Court ruled in Engel vs Vitale (1962) that state sponsored prayer violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. The Establishment Clause is just a few itty, bitty words: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. Many of the founders of this country had fled Europe, where the government and church merged into one huge entity. The king approved the appointment of bishops. No other churches were allowed. The government collected taxes and turned them over to the church. The founding fathers wanted to ensure that people of all faiths or no faith were not coerced into joining a government mandated church or practicing a government mandated faith. The Bill of Rights was extended to include the states. They couldn't create a government sponsored church or faith either. Schools are state licensed and state funded institutions.

I don't want to step on anyone's toes, but I think the court was entirely correct. The case arose from New York where students were read a prayer each morning written by the state. I suppose a new governor might've written a different prayer. In other states the local school board wrote the prayer or the superintendent did. In my small Oklahoma town the teacher created her own prayer for our class. All of those people are agents of the state. Maybe the prayers represented the faith of the majority of citizens. Then again, maybe not. Who is to say?

Children are required by law to attend school. A government mandated prayer that all students must hear is in my mind a clear violation of the Establishment Clause. It is an attempt to establish a common religious faith. I must confess that it irritates me when I hear people say, "they took God out of the schools." As a person of faith myself, I think this is ridiculous. If you believe in God then you know God is everywhere. He hasn't been driven from anywhere. My school has a minute of silence each morning and I have no problem with that. Students who wish to pray are free to do so. Students who are fretting silently about the homework they left on the dining room table are free to do that too. This isn't enough for many people. They want ALL the kids coerced into hearing someone else's version of a prayer. Leave it to the teachers? What if the teachers are not people of faith themselves? What if they practice a minority religion? Is that what you really want? I've never understood why people of faith would want to turn the religious education of their children over to public schools which accept children of all different backgrounds. Pray with your kids at home. Take them to church. Instruct and lead them. Don't try to delegate that to the schools. It is not our place.

Another part of the Constitution is the "Free Exercise Clause". Add it to the end of the Establishment Clause: or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. This is a right just as important as preventing the establishment of a government religion. Students exercise this right every day and they should be able to do just that. I've read news stories of ridiculous overreactions by school administrators. The law expressly recognizes a student's right to exercise his/her faith freely. The student carrying a bible around every day at lunch and reading it? He is entirely within his rights and the school that tries to restrict it is being foolish. If kids can wear rock concert t-shirts to school they should be free to wear shirts expressing their religious beliefs. Students of faith should be free to organize themselves into clubs just like other school groups.

So what can and can't be done? That student who carries his Bible to lunch? He can't stand up in history class and demand to read it aloud. He is free to share it with others who wish to hear during non-instructional time. In virtually all the schools I've worked in there have been religious clubs (example..Fellowship of Christian Athletes), sponsored by a teacher, and given space and time to meet. Their meetings can be announced in the way that all other school meetings are announced. This is consistent with the law and highly appropriate. If students are harassed because of their faith, the offenders should and can be disciplined. Religion can be taught in history and literature courses. I taught history for many years. You can't teach the history of the world or of this country without discussing the role of the church and religious movements.

In my mind, both church and state are stronger when the two aren't mixed. Why would the church want to turn part of the responsibility for delivering its message over to government officials? Today they'd end up writing a prayer that reads like the tax code. This is an incredibly diverse country and the government (and through it their schools) have the responsibility to serve people of all different beliefs? If a parent feels strongly enough about this issue they have the option of sending their child to a private school or home schooling them. I have no problem with people exercising those options either.

I thought for a moment about writing a bland, non-controversial post today. Then I thought better of it.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Ghosts of Christmas Past V 

I knew I was going to write this one and I knew it wouldn't be the easiest one to write. I can't write about the ghosts of Christmases past without writing about 1997. I could just leave this one out I told myself. Its not like you haven't written about it before. Isn't it odd how good memories can be some of the most painful?

You see, there was once this guy. He was divorced, living with his two small children, one a toddler, and one in preschool. He met this girl online in a chat room, started talking to her on the phone, and eventually met her. After a whirlwind, long distance romance they decided to get married and set the date for Christmas Eve, 1997. Why then? It seemed like a great time to get married and it fell during his holiday from work. They weren't going to let a little thing like distance stand in the way. They'd get married and then figure out how to make living together happen.

And so they did. They married in a church in the New Orleans suburbs. The kids were the only family in attendance. They did what little kids do during the ceremony, making noises and tugging on our arms. We finished the service, ate lunch, and headed back to her house to spend Christmas Eve. They sat around sipping hot tea and watched the kids play. When the kids were tucked snugly in bed, they sipped champagne and toasted their nuptials into the early morning hours.

Christmas morning was like it was for millions of others. They sat around watching the kids open their gifts. She made breakfast while he tried to figure out how to make all of their little gadgets work. There was a glitch on the Nintendo 64 gift for the oldest of the children. It needed an adapter to work with the TV. There was no adapter to be had on that Christmas day. But the kids seemed to enjoy all of their gifts and the couple enjoyed celebrating their first Christmas together.

It all seemed surreal to him, somewhat magical. Big changes were coming. Within a couple of months he would have a new job, pack up his house, and move with his kids to be with his new family. A lot of good times would follow and then the whole thing would come crashing down.

So he sits around and thinks to himself, "what do I do with these kind of memories?" Where do they fall in the pantheon of life's experiences? Because of the way things ended, do they get consigned to those things you just want to forget? He's already found how to push the bad things to the back of his mind. He knows you shouldn't dwell on those. But he's discovered that good memories can be more painful than the bad ones. He knows that this particular memory caused him a lot of grief last Christmas. Is this the way it always has to be?

So he resolves to himself that this year will be different. He won't try to put it out of his mind. That isn't possible for him. But he does resolve to put it in its proper perspective. It was what it was and things are as they are. He won't lie to you and say that he doesn't feel the sting sometimes. He won't deny his past but he won't live in it either. He has a future to look forward to. He can think back to that moment, allow himself to smile, and then think about the bounty of his life right now. Next year it will sting less and a little less the year after that. In time, the sweet overpowers the bitter.

He won't write of it here again. He doesn't need to.

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Christmas Letter 

I didn't write a Christmas letter this year. Come to think of it, I didn't write one last year. Actually, I'm not sure I've ever written one. I've received several this year along with the Christmas cards from blogfriends and have enjoyed them. They give you a glimpse into people's lives and summarize the past year. In some sense this blog is one long convoluted Christmas letter.

I think its too late to write a letter since I've already sent out most of my cards. But if I WAS to write one it might go something like this:

Greetings friend, relative, co-worker, girlfriend, former lover, acquaintance, or Sonic girl who flirts with me in exchange for a tip:

You just opened my Christmas card and this folded piece of paper came tumbling out. You weren't sure what it was for a moment, but then you saw the typewritten pages and understood that this was a Christmas letter. You sat it aside, glanced at the bills in the stack of mail, and decided this was a better option than seeing how much interest Mastercard jacked you for this month. Welcome to my Christmas letter. You might want to freshen your drink before you sit down to read it.

So you want to know what this year has been like for Brian? Lets just say the "uncomplicated" and "Brian's life" aren't usually found together in the same paragraph. There have been lots of changes, some thrilling moments, some sadness, and lots of questions. Since this is a letter and not a book, I'll try to be concise. After all, your life is as busy as mine and you don't want to read this letter in installments.

I am still working at the same job I was last year. My title is Dean of Students at a middle school. The word "masochist" isn't in the subtitle even though some of you think it probably should be. I pick up my kids in the afternoon and my daughter's first question often is, "so who did you suspend today?" On those rare days when I say "no one", she looks at me like I've taken the day off. My days are filled with teenage angst, drama and irrational behavior and that is just the parents. I was telling someone a couple of weeks ago that I feel like I'm playing that game in the arcade with the mallet and the heads that pop up for you to hit. Knock one down and two more pop up. I've been cursed, pushed, hugged and high fived a lot this year. Wait a minute....thats just the parents too. I compare it to cleaning Patrick's room. You know you are doing some good, but it is sometimes hard to see the difference. But I enjoy what I do, I have a good sense of humor where my job is concerned, and I look forward to it every day. Who could ask for more?

Did I say something about Patrick's room? I think I need a dollar for each time I've used "your room" and "disaster area" to Patrick in the same sentence. Patrick's year can be described in terms of the "projects" he has built at home. Some of them are very cool. All of them are very creative and inventive. But did he really have to cut up his plastic toybox or use his closet rod to make them? Patrick's creed can be summed up something like this: "I imagine, I see parts, I cut, I create, and then I leave the mess on the floor." No sons were killed in the writing of this letter, but he does drive me crazy sometimes. He is also a quotemeister with a funny quip for every occasion. No one sees the world the way Patrick does and that makes him alternatingly endearing and infuriating. But he is never boring. His teachers at school love him. Whenever I go to a meeting they compete with each other to tell me their funniest "Patrick moments". I want to tell them, "come back and talk to me when he empties out your purse and uses a Kotex, lip gloss, your keys, and a cigarette lighter to create a hyperfrequency radar detector". But I do love the little guy just the way he is. When people give him a chance they almost always do.

Then there is Aubree, aka "Teenager in Training". She is sweet, loveable, hot-tempered, very smart, hard to fool, emotional, opinionated, a perfectionist, and talented in a variety of areas. Sometimes she is a little girl, playing with stuffed animals and dolls, curling up on my lap to cuddle or cry, or watching her Mickey Mouse TV. Other times she is like a teenager, talking about "hot boys", watching MTV, or gossiping with her friends on the phone. She agonizes over her grades, tries to help me cook, and cries at sad movies. She talks about things I'm not ready to hear but have no choice...bras and periods. She tries to give me advice on my love life. She likes to talk about politics and history, movies and books, romances, and music. I can't believe that this is her last year of elementary school. I work in a middle school and I am SO not ready for her to be a middle school student.

My love life you ask? My, its been quite a year for that. I've gone on lots of dates and ran like a screaming banshee from any mention of commitment or "relationship". I was a walking, living caricature of someone who has been burned in the romance department. But as the year has winded down I've decided to take my chances with the fairer sex again. I have a girlfriend who has the Herculean task of putting up with me. She is very tolerant and has treated me and the kids quite well. Isn't that cool?

What else has been going on in the "Life of Brian"? I've had a rough year financially but have tried to take steps to right my sinking ship. Divorces and big pay cuts are not the key to financial success, if anyone is curious. Neither is hanging on to spending habits from the years when you actually had disposable income. So if you see a big package from me I can assure you its not a plasma TV. I've survived a year of my own cooking. I'm not sure if that is a testament to my cooking or to the cast-iron quality of my stomach. My big travel adventure was a trip to Kansas/Missouri to see an old friend and a new one. The kids got to go on a grand adventure to England to spend a couple of weeks with their mom. I've regained a modicum of self confidence and worked on excising my demons.

I've written regularly for this entire year on my blog. What is a blog you ask? Its a little corner of the internet where I chronicle my thoughts on things around me. I read other people's blogs as well. Don't get it? You've got to be there. I've met some of the most wonderful people in the last year, people whose friendship I treasure and whose writing I admire. They are important to me and have been my lifeline in many difficult moments.

What? You smell something burning on the stove? I should probably wrap this up. I hope you, your family, and those you love are doing well in this holiday season. I'm happy to report to you that I and mine are doing just that. This year at Christmas I have a smile on my face. I'm smiling not because my life is perfect. I'm smiling because I'm living the best way I know how, I'm loving my kids and my job, and because I have hope. If the holiday season means anything, it means a time for hope to be renewed.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year to you and yours.

Love,

Brian

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Weekend Roundup 12/16-12/17 

Welcome to this edition of the weekend roundup. There are a lot of great posts to choose from. Some infused with the Christmas spirit. Some sad. Some funny. All are excellent. I hope you enjoy!

Phoenix had a wreck. Irina had some confessions to make.

Carol talks about blog anonymity. Karen talks about Christmas surprises. (“No Surprises”)

Lime reports on a child’s funeral. Dorothy reports on a war on Christmas.

Monica celebrates a year of blogging. Wanda was celebrating in Christmases past.

Teresa was having a pity party kind of day. Feisty Girl was having a chocolate kinda day.

Breazy has a daughter with a blog. Sally had a rough experience selling her house.

Colleen’s uncle passed away. Sleeping Mommy doesn’t want the first amendment to die.

Restless Angel isn’t dragging out the Christmas decorations this year.

Joe put up the Christmas tree. FTS has to put up with service appointments that are always inopportune.

Jack reports on why Mona Lisa smiles. Susan reports on her holiday open house.

Ellen was having plumbing problems. Sarah has some problems with Ford Motor Company.

Caren shares some of her Christmas knitting. Thomai shares her ideas about race.

Dawn got a secret Santa gift. It probably wasn’t from a Santa that was dressed like Lil Bit.

Stationery Queen is planning on King Kong and the Olive Garden. Trusty Getto didn’t plan on getting his car stuck in the snow.

Margaret is going to be an aunt. (“Auntie Margaret”) Jennifer is a slightly jealous mom.

MamaKBear had a Christmas angel. If Angel had an angel he would bring her things from her wish list.

Lewis watched a man die. Walker used to watch TV without a remote control.

Greek Shadow finishes off the first semester. Scorpy wishes she could finish off her stress.

Pearl shares some fun with the English language. Julie had some fun with the expression “rubber me”.

Keb got busted writing Santa letters. DL found out that she got to be a grandma again.

Cheryl reveals some vanity. Vickie reveals some ideas about courage.

Angie had a blonde moment. Kristy had a successful day off.

T. Marie discusses religion and “The Chronicles of Narnia”. Dove discusses her IPOD and the music she has on it.

Janine grew up in the 80’s and has the answers to prove it. Sallie has great kids and has the homemade Christmas gifts to prove it.

Aka Monty was a gift on the first blog day of Christmas. If you give Stacey a gift, don’t make it music from the 80’s.

Ginger has different people inside her head. Amerloc has a blog that goes all over the place.

Trucker Bob has an antidote for the Christmas blahs. I wish I had an antidote to idiocy. I’d apply it to the grinches who stole Christmas lights from Sue’s father.

Steel Cowboy is taking a break. Simply Satisfied is thinking about how she wanted her kids to have a great dad in their life.

Bsoholic reviews “The Chronicles of Narnia”. Sanora reviews her weekend activities.

Funky Cowboy shares a before and after shot. Fizzy shares some pics of her Christmas decorations.

Boo compares men to grapes. Annabel compares last year’s wishes to reality.

Trick explains why she was drinking wine. Inky explains why she is changing her attitude.

Lisa discusses unruly kids in the store. Pat discusses old Will Rogers broadcasts.

Want to know about your lover’s exes? Monica doesn’t anymore. Want to know the benefits of procrastination? Stephanie has the answers.

Joan had a dream and some Christmas memories. Amanda had a fantastic day!

Christine shares some of her weird habits. Chicky Babe shares a spam email about penis enlargement.

Babs was just trying to thaw things out. Fly Girl is just trying to get through the holidays.

Jazzy talks about 30ishness. Laine talks about sex during her period.

Pauly is throwing a blog Christmas party. Nameless is trying to decide how to spend her Ebay gift certificate.

Steph has a thing for Brian Bosworth. Mercy has a lot of frustration.

Robin shares some thoughts on the death penalty. Buffi shares some random things about herself.

Stop by and spread some love to these folks. They deserve it you know!

Have a great weekend my friends!

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ghosts of Christmas Past IV 

It was Christmas, 1979, and I was home for the holidays. Thats right, the college boy was home. I was 18 years old, a freshman at a junior college about an hour away from my home. I spent most of my weekends at home anyway, bringing my laundry for my mom to do. She would fold it neatly, place it in a laundry basket, and send it back with me.

Living away from home for the first time wasn't as easy as I'd thought it would be. Although I was making new friends in college, the lure of hometown friends and familiarity were strong. My best friend and I still ran around on the weekends. I had a girlfriend that I came home to see until she broke up with me in a letter sent to the college. She was a junior in high school and told me that she'd begun to see someone else. *Sigh* Years later after I married my second wife, we went into a Mexican restaurant. Guess who came to the table to take our order?

I had a roommate named Brad, a Colorado guy, who'd come to Oklahoma a year before to live with his grandmother. Brad couldn't have been more different than me. He was a redhead with long hair, a dope smoker extraordinaire, and the closest thing I knew to a "hippy", flowery shirts and all. I was a small town boy and an athlete. But Brad was fun to talk to. We'd sit up late at night, play cards, talk about religion, politics, sports, and girls.

American diplomats were being held hostage in Iran. Brad and I would sit around and watch the news each night. Something happened to my roomie. His long hair got cut short. He began to wear an army jacket around campus. One night he told me that he was going to join the army because of his outrage over Iran. I tried to talk him out of it to no avail. He made one final weed deal so that he wouldn't have to head off to basic training with no money. What a guy!

The holiday break was just a couple of days away. Brad said to me, "Brian, I'm not going to need all this stuff in basic training. I'm giving you my television, stereo, and tape collection. Dude!! He had a great tape collection going. He left the day before I did. We hugged and he said, "I'll try and come back to visit after I get out of basic." He never did and I never saw him again after that day.

I came home for the holidays. My room was still just like I left it. It had yet to be given over to a younger brother. I didn't want to give up MY room, even though I knew some day that was inevitable. My books were still on the shelf, my bed made just like it always had been. I was enjoying college life but hadn't yet made that separation.

It felt different. This was still my family, my mom and dad, my brothers and sister. But I didn't live there anymore. They told stories about things I didn't know about. I was out of the loop, not a stranger, but yet not quite the same as just a year before. Not an outsider but not quite as far in as I'd always felt. A natural thing to be sure. I was a "man". Not really, but the laws said that I was. My whole life was out there before me on that Christmas. I didn't know yet what I wanted to be for sure.

I was thrilled when the relatives started showing up on Christmas day. My grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. I reconnected with them, telling them stories of my college exploits. My grandfather wanted to know if those college girls were good lookin'. I confirmed it for him and he laughed wickedly.

In a few days I'd be heading back to college, making my future, and continuing the very slow process of separating myself from home and hearth, growing up a little. It was the last of my boyhood Christmases.

It would never be the same again.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Midweek Meanderings 

Its midweek and all is well. Mostly well anyway. I wrote most of this post, tried to use Blogger's spell checker and it crashed my browser. Post lost. Argh!

I was sent by my parents to shop for a camcorder for them. My dad isn't up to going to my niece's basketball games and misses it greatly. He'd also like to see Aubree's games and some from the local high school team. Off I go to Best Buy and return with a Sony DVD camcorder. It is so small, literally fitting comfortably in the palm of your hand. It records to mini-DVDs and has a touch screen. My dad should have some good basketball viewing.

Psst! Don't tell my mom! My dad, brothers, and I are pitching in to get her a remote starter for her Dodge truck. She has remarked before how nice it would be to start her truck from inside the house on these cold winter mornings. One of us will make an excuse to borrow her truck for a few hours, get it installed, and wrap the remote up for her to open on Christmas. Should be fun!

I think my daughter is addicted to the SIMS games. I wonder if there is a cure.

Patrick has been working to complete a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Motivated by the five buck reward I've offered he was got a big part of the edges done. This is taking him a lot longer than the model airplane (about two hours).

The grandfather of one of our students called the office yesterday and was abusive to two of our secretaries over a misunderstanding of whether or not his grandson had detention or not. One of them finally hung up on him, but not before getting his number. I called him today and he wasn't ugly at all to me. But I did want to let him know that it was uncool to be rude to the secretaries. He told me at some point that he worked for the local newspaper. I said, "so sir, I should call you and complain about the paper's editorial policies?" He said, "well no, I have nothing to do with that." I replied, "and our office staff has nothing to do with your grandson's detention. Why don't you call me if you have anything to discuss like that?" He kinda sputtered and mumbled, "well, I didn't know who to talk to." I said, "and now you do."

It happens to me too of course. One irate gentleman was chewing on me about a district policy last year. I told him that I was just enforcing district-wide rules. He said, "well, who do I talk to if I want to change that?" I replied, "the guy in the big office downtown who makes about four times as much as I do and has a desk the size of my office." He laughed and said, "you're talking about the superintendent." Yep!

I had a two hour meeting yesterday with a group of parents and students. Several girls are mad at another girl (aka "the victim"). They are all in 7th grade. For the last couple of weeks they've been prank calling her house, cursing her mom on the phone, leaving nasty threatening notes in her locker, and threatening her at school. The victim's mom gets hold of all the threatening notes and calls the moms of the other girls. The moms apparently talked to each other for hours and confiscated all of their daughter's notes from purses, notebooks, and dressers. Then they all decide that they are coming to school to meet with me and call me to inform me of the meeting they've set up. We all crowd into this room where the victim's mom passes out copies of the offending notes to everyone there. The other moms also pull out stacks of notes and are showing them to each other. I impose short suspensions on the girls who left threatening notes in the victim's locker. All of the moms are in agreement and one of them (whose daughter I suspended) thinks I'm being a little lenient. There are a couple of grandmas there too. Every one of the moms, girls, and grandmas are crying at some point. Some of them are crying most of the time. Can you say estrogen overload? I felt like I needed to rush out and watch a football game or something.

I'd venture to say that most parents don't have a really good handle on the teen subculture, the language they use, and how they talk to each other. A couple of the moms are really in a state of shock. Some of the worst notes are written in church! The notes are highly sexually explicit and the mom of the only boy involved tells me that several of the girls have left sexually explicit messages on her answering machine at home.

The girls had nicknames for each other. Try to picture this scene. A roomful of moms and me. One of the moms looking at a note asks, "who is Bitch 101? Who is pussylicker?" You wanna talk about some uncomfortable teenage girls?

Looking for the perfect gift for the computer geek in your life? Check out these very weird USB drives. Who can resist USB shrimp?

I've mentioned before that I have former students who read this blog. I received email from one of them recently making reference to a couple of posts. I find that just way cool. To my former students....a big hearty HELLO!

I played a little basketball with some of the kids today. One of them goaded me into it by tossing me the ball and saying good naturedly, "you got any game old man?" I shot and scored and a bunch of the kids laughed and cheered. He tossed it back and said, "Just luck. Try it again!" I gave him a head fake and spun left. He got his legs tangled up and fell on the ground. As the ball dropped through the net I walked over, helped him up, patted him on the back, and whispered in his ear, "the old man DOES have a LITTLE game!" Then I decided to quit while I was ahead.

One of my co-workers got called a "slut" by one of our emotionally disturbed students. She said, "I haven't been called a slut in a long time! It takes me back to junior high." Too funny.

I got a new coat. Now I can do bus duty without getting frostbitten. Aaaah.

So how is YOUR week going?

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Holiday Music 


I do love Christmas music. Some of the songs I've learned to enjoy as an adult and some date back to my childhood. Its amazing the range of emotions that Christmas music can produce. The songs make me smile, make me laugh, or make me sad. I thought I'd share, so here you have Brian's favorite Christmas music list.

1. "Merry Christmas Darling", by the incomparable Karen Carpenter. Her voice still sends shivers through me, especially on this song. This is a bittersweet song of lovers spending Christmas apart.

2. "Merry Christmas Baby", by Otis Redding. This blues and soul infested tune makes me tap my toes and puts a smile on my face. Elvis Presley does a pretty good rendition of this song, but its Otis by a nose.

3. "Do You Hear What I Hear?" by Whitney Houston. This song seems tailor made for Whitney's voice and it is a song of hope.

4. "Carol of the Bells" by the Carpenters. A timeless classic

5. "Oh Holy Night" by Nat King Cole. This song always gives me a rush of emotion and no one has ever sung it better than Cole.

6. "Silver Bells" by Elvis Presley. Why don't they ever play this version in stores or malls? It might make me stay longer and I might even buy something? Harry Connick Jr. isn't too shabby on this one either.

7. "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" by The Carpenters. The way she sings this song is a thing of beauty.

8. "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" by Mariah Carey. I'm not even a Mariah Carey fan, but she does a wonderful job on this song and the piano work is superb.

9. "Jingle Bell Rock" by Bobby Helms. A fun, frollicky song that my kids love too!

10. "The Christmas Song" by The Carpenters. There have been so many great versions of this song. I also like the way Cole, Mel Torme, and Frank Sinatra do this one. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire indeed.

11. "The First Noel" by Nat King Cole. It wouldn't be Christmas without it.

12. "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby. The most memorable version of a wonderful song. I love it even though I can count the white Christmases I've experienced on one hand.

13. "Winter Wonderland" by Garth Brooks. It sounds like Garth has a lot of fun with this song and I have fun listening to it.

14. "Silent Night" by Nat King Cole. The way he does this song is awe inspiring. A truly special classic song for the holidays.

15. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" by the Jackson 5. That naughty mommy!

16. "Frosty the Snowman", the Disney version. Ahhh, the memories!

So what am I missing? Have some favorite holiday songs?

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Christmas Spirit 

My friend Wanda wrote a thought provoking post ("The Reason for the Season") awhile back. She questions the commercialism that has become so much a part of our culture during the Christmas holiday season. Is it really all just about how many expensive gifts we can give and receive? I've gone back and read that post a couple of times in recent weeks. It makes me think and I love posts that make me think.

Let me state it for the record. I am a Christmasaholic. I love everything about the season. I love the music, the sights and sounds, people with packages in their hands, and the way generosity seems to infect so many. I'll admit to being one of those people Wanda talks about. I love to buy gifts for those I care about. I want my kids to be excited by the presents they open on Christmas morning. I need for that to be true. Ask my ex wives. They've been in the unique position of being both the beneficiary and victim of my gift-buying compulsions.

Take a guy who loves to shop anyway and who thinks finding the perfect gift is an art form in itself. Stir in a healthy shot of the special deals and sales that practically scream out at him everywhere he turns. Mix in a couple of kids who are old enough to know the value of things and know exactly what they want for Christmas. They start telling him in January what they want for Christmas the next year. Add a heaping tablespoon of some mysterious malady that seems to infect him right around Thanksgiving and disappears after the new year. Mix in what is almost a competition between parents. Who can get their kids the coolest stuff for Christmas? Add a sprinkle of unrealistic expectations. Whaddya got? A Christmasaholic.

This year is a little different. My kids won't get everything their little hearts desire under the tree. I wish I could say it is because I've become virtuous, seen the light, and will take them to ladle soup at a homeless shelter all day on Christmas. But that wouldn't be exactly true. What I am doing is shopping within a budget. I took their mile long list, whittled it down to a few items, went out and got them. That's it. No more. Last year I went to pick up a couple of stocking stuffers and returned with a new bike to add to the burgeoning pile. Of course, once I got a new bike for Aubree I had to get something to balance it out for Patrick. And so it goes.

Don't get me wrong. I think they will be delighted with their Christmas bounty. Each of them has games and gadgets under the tree which will bring smiles to their impish little faces. I'm happy I was able to do what I've done. It could've been worse. My financial situation isn't one that I'm particularly proud to talk about. Not that its stopped me before. I've spent insane amounts at Christmas in the past without regard to my financial situation. This is the most restrained I've ever been. Everything paid for in cash. No credit bills to haunt me for the next twelve months. You know the ones I'm talking about. The bills that scream at you in June, "WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?". Big bills for toys that have long since been discarded, broken, or shoved to the bottom of the toybox.

The simple truth is this. Buying gifts for my kids has little to do with the Christmas spirit. Giving a gift is a sign of love and affection. That would be true with a book just as well as an XBox 360 or a fancy new stereo system. What I and many others have to get away from is the notion that the more you spend the more you love. Wanda is right on there. Giving tons of hard earned money to department stores doesn't mean you love them anymore. It means that you feel like you have to show them in a way that makes the registers of Toys R Us sing with joy. Kids can be greedy, but whose fault is that?

Quick now. Think back to your childhood and name ten gifts you received in all those years. Can't do it? How about five? It isn't what you got. Its that you were with those you loved. When I was writing my "Ghosts of Christmas Past" posts I tried hard to think about gifts I received. I remembered the pool table and the chemistry set. Beyond that I struggled to come up with a specific gift. I'm betting my kids will be the same way when they grow up. I've read stories from those who grew up on the American frontier over 100 years ago. The Christmas gift for the children might have been an orange and a small bag of hard candy. Think those kids were miserable? They were overjoyed. Its all about the expectations we create.

So what is this Christmas spirit we hear so much about? What do I want my kids to come away from this holiday season with? Once they've shredded the wrapping paper and played with their toys I want them to remember a few things. Their dad loves them so very much and the gifts they received were because I love them, not because I want to impress them or anyone else. That this is a holy season as well and they should not lose sight of that in their rush to plug the newest game in the video console. That we are all so very damn lucky to be here together, celebrating this holiday together yet another year. That giving and sharing with other people is important not only during the holidays but during the entire year. That no matter how hard times might have seemed, we are so very fortunate. That their smiles and laughter are the greatest gift their poor sappy dad could ever hope to receive. That life exudes hope for all who will grasp for it. That our tiny Christmas tree belies the size of our hearts and the love we feel for each other. That the future ahead for all of us is a bright one indeed.

All that being said, we'll just go have ourselves a merry little Christmas.

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Pssst! 

Hey blogfriends? Allow me to let you in on a little something. Many of you already know about it, the blog gossip mill being what it is. I've alluded to it in quite a few posts and I've deftly avoided some of the questions that have come my way in comments. So I'm gonna pass you a note, junior high style. You can read it and give it back with your comment written on it.

I have a girlfriend. Yes, I really do. I met her right here in blogland. Actually, she met me. She read my blog, noticed me, and began to write me. Let me be honest, ok? At first I wasn't all that interested. She seemed intelligent and very nice, but in reading her blog I didn't see much of a bad girl there. My weakness, those bad girls. I thought she would fit in nicely with the country side of me, but not the rock-n-roll side. So we exchanged polite emails for quite some time. Then I discovered something that shocked me. A "bad girl" blog that had aroused my interest? That was her as well. I enjoy duality in a woman....the good and the bad, the yin and the yang.

This led to a meeting last summer. We had a great time together. Other meetings followed this fall. Late night phone calls. We clicked on a lot of levels. Perfect? Of course not. But very much good enough that it makes me want to pursue it further, to see where things will go. She knows my scars, frailties, and self doubts, yet she is still here. I've been honest with her and she hasn't run screaming the other way. Our kids have met and that went very well. I told my kids long ago that they would have a voice regarding anyone I'm involved with. They are gung-ho about her. I can't blame them. She is pretty, intelligent, loving, and compassionate. I think her daughter is quite the young lady as well.

We have a long running debate about what real Texas chili is. With or without beans? We cheer for different football teams. Can you believe a Texas girl cheers for a team in San Francisco? We've had some spirited arguments discussions on politics, religion, and other touchy subjects. She knows I'm a hopeless flirt friendly guy and puts up with me anyway.

I'm not an easy guy to have as a boyfriend at this point in my life. I'm deeply afraid of being hurt again and of having the kids hurt. My marriage/divorce has left me with some issues that would be difficult for any woman to live with. I have my own peculiarities that are a challenge for any prospective mate. This has been something of a endurance test for her, putting up with all my questions, my doubts, and my insecurities. I thank her for sticking with me through some difficult moments. She accepts me for who I am, and thats no small matter.

Its been over a year since I left Washington, my wife, my job and my life. I've avoided entanglements for all of that time. I've backed out of several potential relationships, some of them promising ones. I could keep doing that ad infinitum. I've gotten really good at it. Or I can do something different. I can take a chance and put myself out there in the romantic world again. I can let someone in. I can crawl out of the relationship version of the fetal position and stand upright.

Too soon you say? Perhaps. But I'm going for it. If I've learned anything in this life it is to listen to your heart but let your head have it's say too. Right now they are both in agreement.

Her name is Monica. She's a special girl. I love ya darlin. If you're willing to take a chance with me, I'm willing as well.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

Weekend Roundup 12/9-12/10 

My weekend got started on a snow day Thursday and interrupted by a work day Friday, but its here! Ihave a lot of Christmas cards to write this weekend (its not too late if you still want one...email me). I awoke this morning and heard that it was 2 degrees outside. TWO DEGREES! Why even bother with two lousy degrees. Lets make it an even zero.

This was an experiment. Write the entire weekend roundup while listening to the IPOD. Seemed to work just fine. My fingers tapped to Stevie Ray Vaughn's "Riviera Paradise", Marshall Tucker Band's "Cant You See?", Buddy Holly's "True Love Ways", Tony Bennett's "The Way You Look Tonight", The Beatles "Day Tripper", Hoobastank's "The Reason", Eric Clapton's "For Your Love", Elton John's "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me", U2's "Pride..In the Name of Love", Limp Bizkit's "My Way Or The Highway", Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven", Evanescence's "My Immortal", Coldplay's "In My Place", Frank Sinatra's "Someone to Watch Over Me", Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Hey Tonight" and a few others. Voila, you have a music infused weekend roundup. Enjoy!

Mystic wonders if her lover has E.S.P. Colleen wondered why her house smelled like a sewer.

Simply Satisfied was not feeling loved. Phoenix was not feeling at home.

Teresa shares a picture of her house, adorned for Christmas and covered in snow! Caren shares her love of old fashioned Christmas music.

Monica had a little accident. Christine is breaking up with her husband.

Dawn thought this was perfect snuggling weather. Trusty Getto thought the snow day was a lot of fun.

Irina shares her thoughts on domestic violence. Annabel Lee shares her meme idea…write a post in the style of another blogger. I think she’s on to something.

Thomai thinks it is great that “Memoirs of a Geisha” is being made into a movie. Margaret didn’t think her shaving accident was so great.

Lis misses THOSE kind of hugs. Mary Lou doesn’t miss traveling with kids at Christmas.

MamaKBear had a birthday! Pat had her first glimpse of snow in years.

Some of Hillbilly Mom’s students were pissing her off. One of the students at Greek Shadow’s school died in a car wreck. So very sad.

Stacey got a Dallas version of a snowstorm. Carol got the Christmas party version of karaoke night.

Joe has been dealing with crazy traffic and a lot of work. Lime had to deal with a snow day and it sounds like she had some fun doing it.

Cheryl’s kid knows about the true meaning of Christmas. DL was trying to find Christmas.

Susan had a fire but no chestnuts. Julie had plenty of fire going on her date.

Ellen finished two beautiful cross stitch projects. Bsoholic finished several cartoon sketches.

Jac tells how he ended up in Africa. Joan tells about her dreams of being a figure skater.

Steel Cowboy writes a melancholic post. Keb writes about how to make mom cranky.

Breazy is headed for a lady’s retreat. Scorpy was headed to the store for sugar and her mental state wasn’t the best!

Walker has a great idea…a globehopping journal. I have a great idea for Jazzy. Get some sleep girl!

ChickyBabe discusses blog anonymity. Funky Cowboy discusses his need for new clothes.

Jerry went to a Bowling For Soup concert. Amanda went on vacation and shares some pictures from the trip.

Jennifer is working on a secret project. Sarah is trying to avoid taking painkillers.
Dwayne isn’t crazy about a political children’s book. Prairie Girl wasn’t crazy about her Nair experience.

Karen wants to be naughty and nice. New Wave Gurly wants the roofers to stop making so much noise.

T. Marie wonders where the politicians are that represent her. Ginger was wondering who was going to help her with the not-yet-dead mouse.

Kristy is….drum roll….pregnant! Trick is thinking about a Victoria Secret’s outfit.

Pearl talks about listening to your body. Vickie talks about Christmas….Australia style.
Dorothy was looking for that perfect ornament. Lu was happy to be home.

Janine plans to sleep like a baby. I wonder how Aka Monty’s babies slept.

Angel shares her wish list. Sue shares some rambling thoughts.

Stephanie was in a bit of a holiday funk. Babs was in a holiday blur…such a busy girl!

Steph wishes for peace. Redneck Diva has some Christmas wishes for her blogfriends.

Pauly doesn’t care for horror movies. Robin didn’t care for some of the performances on the Billboard Music Awards.

A Little Indulgence shares a joke. Trucker Bob shared an old Army photo.

Splendid talks about why she blogs. The Real Me talks about the comfort of sadness.

What do you think about eating spaghetti on a cracker? Sleeping Mommy’s son likes it that way. What do you think about switching from Coke to Pepsi? Tell Stationery Queen all about it.

Wanda wonders why churches aren’t having services on Christmas Day. Lisa wonders why sending gifts has to be such an ordeal.

Rachel remembers the last time. Seshat remembers some Christmases past.

Diana has some books she won’t part with. Janet has gift buying down to a science. Almost.

Nameless doesn’t think she would want to switch lives with anyone.

Meg had some aha moments. Leslie had a coffee craving moment.

Lip Schtick reviews Billy Crystal’s book. Chosha reviews what its like to be an instant mom.

Lewis shares a funny Christmas memory. Darla shares a good morning at work.

Michael wonders about married women who remove their rings. Buffi wondered why her daughter wasn’t WEARING her coat in frigid weather.

Have a wonderful weekend my friends.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Snow Day 

It was a snow day for the kids and I. Our schools were closed today. Patrick was up EARLY trying to find out if he had to go to school today. He was thrilled that he didn't. Remember when you were a kid and you watched those scrolling schools on TV to see if they were closed? I haven't missed a day of work in a long time because of the snow. The last one would've been in Washington, several years ago. Last winter was very light in terms of snow.

I've never been crazy about snow days because they are made up at the end. I always tell students, "you wanna go to school in December or in June?" I'd rather be at work when the weather is miserable and playing outside when the weather is warm. But since we do have a few snow days built into the calendar, I think I can live with this one today!

The view from my front porch today:
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This is from my backyard:
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The kids drug out the sled and spent all morning sledding down the hill. They also made and threw a lot of snowballs. This was a very tightly packed, grainy snow and it wasn't ideal for snowballs or building snowmen. No matter. They had a blast!

I got my Christmas pictures back today and am ready to start sending out cards. Woohoo!
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I love this picture of the kids. It seems to capture both of them so well.
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I also had pictures of each of the kids taken with me.
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A snow day. Two weeks until we are out for the holidays. Isn't life grand?

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Midweek Meanderings 

Its midweek and a snowy one here! The temperature outside right now is 11 degrees and it is snowing. Brrrrrrrrr!

I had a very emotionally volatile student in my office. He really wasn't in all that much trouble but he was quite upset and kept saying, "I don't care. I just don't care. I'm never coming back to this school. Just call my dad and have him pick me up." I said, "ok, we can call your dad in a few minutes but I need your help first. I need a good picture of me at my desk and I need someone who knows something about cameras to take it. Think you can help me out?" He nodded and said, "I'm really good with a camera. I can do it". I replied, "are you sure? I want it to be a good picture!" He assured me he could do it. We got the camera out and I told him to snap when ready. After he played with the settings for a minute he was ready and he snapped the picture below. Then he took a couple more. We talked about cameras for awhile and I said, "ok my man, do I still need to call your dad or do you think you can go back to class?" He said, "I'm fine. I'll just go to class". Ahhh sweet victories, won one at a time.
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Yeah, I know my desk is messy. It isn't always that way. Really! I was swamped that morning.

Considering how much Patrick likes to create things from household items I talked to him about building a model. He can sit there and painstakingly build Lego models with 50 step directions. I told him that if he got a workspace in his room all ready that he and I would go buy a model car for him to work on.

We had a particularly irate parent yesterday. She's cursed my staff and hung up on me once. Do you know how much I HATE being hung up on? She comes in for a meeting, hostile from hello. The principal, a teacher, and I are sitting in this conference room with her. The meeting isn't going well. The principal is doing most of the talking and I occasionally (and very politely) interject my perspective. She continues to get angrier in spite of my principal's soothing words. Finally she spews forth some profanity and my boss tells her that the meeting is over. She curses at the principal, walks to the door, turns, and says to me, "you aren't perfect yourself either Mr. High and Mighty!" I can't imagine what she might've said had I actually said something to offend her! I just chuckled. You've gotta have a sense of humor in my line of work.

I just want to let everyone know that I'm freezing my ass off doing bus duty on these winter afternoons. The last couple of days have been particularly cold. We have a new way of loading kids on the bus, and I find myself being the guy outside with the walkie talkie, radioing inside when buses arrive. Hmmm....whats wrong with this picture?

One concern about this snow is that I live on top of a very steep hill. A few inches of snow and it might be rather difficult to get in and out of here.

Patrick LOVES the snow. The cold doesn't bother him a bit. He goes outside, makes snowballs, and throws them at whatever he can find.

Have I mentioned lately about how much this IPOD rocks? I've got a few hundred songs loaded on there. I'm listening to it as I write this post. I'm not sure if listening to Pink Floyd inspires my creativity but it sure is a lot of fun!

My daughter keeps telling me that Kenny Chesney is a "hottie". I'm beginning to wonder if she has been sneaking over to read Teresa and being influenced!

I always say that I never WIN anything. Drawings? Contests? Being the 11th caller to the radio station? I can't say that anymore because I won the contest over at Lu's. The prize? Sex flashcards. Maybe I'll learn something!

So how is YOUR week going?

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