Saturday, April 30, 2016

12:34 April 30

This morning, I got to have a nice talk with Katie while driving her to the airport. We had a nice visit with her this week, and I realized how grateful I am for friends who so easily incorporate themselves into our lives despite long distances and months between visits.

I was working at the Staff Development Center at 12:34 today. It was good work, and I felt like it was important.

Then I came home, and played basketball in the driveway with the boys. I was thankful for our laughter and friendly competition. After, I came in and played records on my record player with Lauren. We danced and sang all the way through an easy dinner I made. Allison delivered T to his first sleepover, and we have a teeball game to look forward to with Evan tonight. I've been very aware of the preciousness of today and thankful for a day full of people I love.

Friday, April 29, 2016

12:34 April 29

Tobin's speech he wrote after a weeks-long unit on Civil Rights & using "voice" to effect positive change.

Tobin had a tough decision to make last night. His school class was having a special family night, presenting their Civil Rights projects they had been working on for the last few weeks. But he also had a baseball game scheduled. He went back and forth, but ultimately settled on the school event. I know it was a difficult choice, but Matt and I felt whatever choice he made would be the right one. Above is the speech he wrote. The class spent time talking about using "voice" to effect positive change. I'm really grateful for Tobin's class community and the thoughtful lesson plans of his teacher and--in this case--student teacher. I'm also thankful that he loves baseball and takes seriously his commitment to his team. Although he experienced some stress picking between school and the game, I'm thankful he had both opportunites. (And we kinda lucked out because the baseball game got suspended due to weather.)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

12:34 April 28

Today at 12:34, Allison dropped me off at work after lunch with our friend Katie, who's in town for a few days. I'm thankful for good food and time to take a deep breath, but mostly for good friends.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

12:34 April 27

I'm thankful for a day full of time with friends: Evan has a play date on this early-release day; Tobin, Lauren and I are either meeting friends to play--weather permitting--or running an errand to buy a present for a friend's upcoming birthday; and we're hosting a dear friend, who's visiting from out-of-town, for a couple of nights.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

12:34 April 26

A former student stopped by my room today while making a delivery. We talked for a while as peers and shared good memories. I'm thankful for a job that has introduced me to thousands of people I might otherwise not have known.

Monday, April 25, 2016

12:34 April 25

I'm spending several hours in my kitchen today. It's one of my favorite places. Today I'm baking bread, making tomato sauce and chopping veggies for a quick pre-baseball dinner tonight. I'll have enough tomato sauce to freeze for another meal next week. I feel grateful for the opportunity and space to do something I love: make food.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

12:34 April 24

For the second year, house finches have made a nest outside our back door. This morning, I woke up to make muffins. While preparing them, I opened the door to let the morning breeze in. The whispering peeps of the finch chicks came, too. I'm thankful for spring, and muffins, and families of all kinds that get to enjoy a day as beautiful as today.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

12:34 April 23

I'm grateful for the sunshine. For the fourth year in a row, it looks like we're going to have great weather for the kids' school's carnival--its PTA's biggest fundraiser of the year. And though we had baseball games rained out last night and this morning, it's looking like we'll get in a make-up game and a practice this evening.

Friday, April 22, 2016

12:34 April 22

I'm reading three different books now for work and for pleasure. T reads any chance he gets. Evan has really taken to reading the last few weeks, and Lauren loves to read us her own versions of books. I'm thankful to have, and to have grown up in, houses that love and appreciate reading.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

12:34 April 21

Big boy in the box as the sun sets. Go Twins!

I'm grateful for a low-key day: all three kids at school, a mid-morning run, banana bread baking, plans to meet a friend for a late-afternoon drink, leftovers for supper and a baseball-free evening. Since Saturday, we've been to the ball park every day except Monday, and the boys have played three games each. It's been a really fun (especially with Mimi here!) few days, but I am thankful for a little change of pace--for today at least.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

12:34 April 20

I'm thankful for the family I married into. Amy has been with us the the last few days, playing and working and sharing with us. The kids were literally jumping into her arms when she got here.

I have a lot of great memories of my grandparents, and it's exciting to see my kids making their own with theirs. There's always a letdown after Mimi visits, but that's because of how great it is when she's here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

12:34 April 19

This morning, Mom and I are working in the yard. I'm prepping the garden out back for planting. She's weeding the mulch beds in the front yard. The younger two kids are home with snotty noses and have been banned from screen time, so they're in and out of the house, "helping" me in particular by bringing earthworms they've found "to help our garden grow!" I'm thankful for all of it: the beautiful day, the time to spend, my mom here to help and even my snotty-nosed school-skippers.

Monday, April 18, 2016

12:34 April 18

We're discussing existentialism in one of my classes. I'm thankful for the perspectives of young people willing to think for themselves, challenge themselves, and challenge me in my thinking

Sunday, April 17, 2016

12:34 April 17

I'm grateful for a quiet but playful morning at home. About half of us are feeling a tad under the weather with mild head colds, so we stayed home from church. Matt set up the backyard wiffle ball field. Mimi and the boys are playing ball while Lala wanders around collecting flowers. I'm inside sipping tea and folding laundry, thankful for restful morning with Mom here to spend it with us.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

12:34 April 16

I'm thankful for a beautiful day at the ballpark with Amy and our family. Both the boys played hard and enjoyed winning their respective games. Every time I watch our kids play baseball, I'm flooded with happy memories of playing ball as a kid.

Friday, April 15, 2016

12:34 April 15

This midday found me finishing a walk and enjoying lunch with my mom! She flew in from Florida this morning. On our way home, we stopped by the kids' school to watch a little bit of Evan's field day. He knew she was coming in town, but I don't think he was expecting us to show up for field day. He greeted her by jumping into her arms for a hug. I'm so thankful to have her here for a few days.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

12:34 April 14

This week I've been given reminders of impermanence. I lost a really important item in class this week. I keep my notes on novels, essays, and plays that I've taught in class in an old composition book. I've added notes to it and dog-eared it for years. I don't know if someone took it or if -- for the first time in ages -- I somehow laid it down, forgetting how important it is. I feel really lost as a classroom teacher without it. Since missing it, I feel like I only have whispers of insights in my head that I know were written down before.

I also broke my phone's screen this week. I've carried a smartphone for almost 8 years, and I've never gotten more than minor cosmetic scratches on it. This week, after a difficult meeting, I dropped my phone as I was getting up to leave, cracking the screen from top to bottom in a spiderweb pattern. It functions, but pieces of glass come off in my pocket, and I have to strain to read the characters on the screen.

I'm not thankful for either event, but I think it's good to be given reminders how easily we come to take things for granted.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

12:34 April 13

I'm thankful for the convenience of online shopping. I feel like I've been spinning my wheels lately, not getting as much done as I feel I should. Avoiding a cross-town trip to a retail store this morning helped a lot on this particular day.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Monday, April 11, 2016

12:34 April 11

Our busy schedule and my resistance to chilly temps prevented me from running this weekend. So I am thankful for milder weather and the opportunity for a late-morning four-miler today.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

12:34 April 10

Im thankful for the kids' school community, and the nice families we've met through it. We had a late breakfast and early afternoon visit with friends from their school.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

12:34 April 9

Gray chilly morning at the ball field but they don't seem to mind. 💞⚾️

When my 12:34pm alarm went off today, I had already spent more than four hours at the boys' baseball field, most of that time by myself with all three kids because Matt had to work this morning. The day started with team pictures, then opening ceremonies, then waiting in a long concession line so I could buy Tobin a hot dog before his noon game, and then feeding Evan and Lauren sandwiches and snacks I had packed while I made sure Tobin had all his equipment for his game. During this time I had lost Lauren about two-and-a-half times in the crowd and had asked my standing-around kids to PLEASE STOP PUSHING/TOUCHING/TACKLING each other no fewer than a million times. And the thing that made the whole morning even more stressful was that it was weirdly chilly and so windy. But by 12:34, Matt had joined us. Tobin's team was off to a good-hitting start in a game they would eventually win. Evan and Lauren had made friends to spend most of the game playing with. I had survived my stressful morning, and even though I hated the wind--that persisted ALL DAY LONG--it was a happy, fun start to the baseball season. Go Twins! Go Orioles!

(And now I am home, and Matt is making us pancakes for supper and I don't have to be outside for the rest of the day.)

Friday, April 08, 2016

12:34 April 8

I'm thankful for my sons' enthusiasm for their new baseball seasons.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

12:34 April 7

I'm grateful for a morning spent walking and talking with a friend.

Tourney Final

Hey Everybody,

Emotions, man. Emotions. My friend Leesa writes a lot about sports emotions.  And I have emotions about emotions this week. I haven't wanted to write this update, in part because I don't want this time of year to come to and end, but moreso because Tobin experienced the biggest downside of being a fan Monday night. This was his favorite UNC team of his young life. We let him stay up late to watch the championship game. For most of it, he huddled under a blanket, pumping his fist periodically, calling fouls the refs missed, and decrying non-existent fouls that were called.

Then Marcus Paige hit that shot. That shot. A shot celebrated in an alternate universe as THE SHOT. Tobin jumped up and screamed "YES!" then, remembering his siblings were asleep down the hall, sat down and whispered "--sorry--" while beaming. Then, only milliseconds later, the real shot happened. And Tobin cried. A loud, wet, long, sincere, heartbreaking cry that made me feel guilty for letting him stay up, for letting him watch TV at all, and for letting him care so much.

My favorite basketball team of all time lost to Christian Laettner's Duke team 24 years ago on a shot that I watch replayed--conservatively--200 times every year. I still feel hints of the twenty-four-year old disbelief and shock I felt whenever I watch it. Sometimes I still turn my head so I don't see stupid Thomas Hill's crying face. T will experience some variation of the same for a long time. (To a lesser degree, Bryon will shudder at the name Jesperson for the rest of his life).

One of my initial lies to myself Monday night was that "it's only a game," and that I was foolish in some way for not only investing myself emotionally in sports fandom, but that I was especially foolish for ushering my children into the same. But I'm not ultimately sorry. Here's part of the reason why: One of my favorite ideas on sports can be paraphrased like this: For the whole of a game, the ball is the most important object. Everyone's energies are focused on it. Protection and possession of it are crucial, and the game can't happen without it. But we mistake ourselves when we confuse the ball for the game. When the game is over, no one cares what happens to the ball; it is immaterial. The game was in the teamwork, strategy, skill, preparation, and effort expended in competition. 

Sports at their best are analogies for life. I can't protect my kids from life's periodic reminders that it can't and won't always reward our efforts and hopes. Only the foolish expect a life free from heartache and disappointment. It would be unfair to expect it of sports. (Unless you're a Yankees fan, I guess). It hurts a lot, but that hurt is often counterbalanced with an analogous joy. (Unless you're a Browns fan, I guess).

A (very) few observations:
  • Oklahoma is probably thankful that the Carolina game happened, so no one will remember their Final Four Facepalm.
  • Buddy Hield is an awesome player and he loves his mom. I'll let those be my last memories of him in college.
  • Villanova winning might bring out the Big East crazies that dominated March media for a long time. Here's hoping it doesn't.
  • You all are really nice to participate in the nonsense I facilitate here every year. I look forward to it, and I spend more time on it than I probably should, but I appreciate you reading and taking part. Oh, and get ready, because Kentucky's got a [all-brand new] squad next year!

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

12:34 April 6

Today at 12:34, I had just finished talking with a senior about plans for his future. I'm always flattered and humbled to be trusted enough for people to ask my advice, and it made me thankful for all of the people who have guided and advised me through the different phases of my life. I feel like a thread woven into a garment that existed before me.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

12:34 April 5

I am thankful that my almost-ten-year-old can crawl into my arms and sob after watching his Tar Heels lose the NCAA Championship in heartbreaking fashion. It hurts to see him so sad. But my prayer is that I will always provide a safe place for him to share his true feelings, whatever they are.

Monday, April 04, 2016

12:34 April 4

Implicit in my gratitude for my life and family is my gratitude for Allison, her strength, and her health. I feel it especially acutely on days like today.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

12:34 April 3

Homeward bound: Lala napping sans thumb. 😍😴👼

I'm thankful for a day at home between our Spring Break travels and returning to school and work tomorrow. Vacation is fun, but making the transition back to "normal life" isn't so much. At least we have a day to rest, do a little laundry and brace ourselves.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

12:34 April 2

Today we drove home successfully, and tonight the Final Four starts. I'm in a little denial about going back to work Monday, but I'm thankful for another safe, fun Spring Break.

Friday, April 01, 2016

12:34 April 1

Cousin love: Sam & T.

We are spending the day in Berea, Kentucky, with Matt's sister and her family. A couple of years ago on Spring Break, we visited Sarah, Dan and two-month-old Sam at their home in New York City. Sam is a busy, talkative two year old now, and Berea is quite the change of pace. We're enjoying walks through town and a nearby bounce house. I'm thankful the cousins are making memories together.

Cousin carousel: Sam & Ev.

Lala, snuggling up for the photo with Sam & Dan.