Friday, September 27, 2013

A Woman in her Thirties and the Man She Married

It was June, 2009.  I had found out I was pregnant, gone through some yucky yuckiness, and was laying in the hospital pre-op room, waiting for my D and C.

I felt cried out by that point.  The miscarriage, on top of all the other difficulties my first year of marriage had brought, left me feeling gutted.  I felt old and spent and very alone.  L and I sat there in silence, wishing for the day to be over.

The nurse came in with a green hair net for me to wear.  You know-- the kind doctors wear all the time.  She told me to put it on, but I didn't want to.  I wanted to wait until the very last second to do it.  I wanted to be pregnant for just one more minute, until I wasn't anymore.

L took the hairnet and somehow found a ball point pen.  I didn't notice him starting to draw on it-- I was too caught up in my own thoughts.  When he was finished, he presented it to me.

'You have to be brave,' he said.  'So I made you a green beret for the day.'

I wish I had a picture of what he drew.  It was a full-on green beret badge, complete with an eagle emblem.  L put it on my head and adjusted it just so. 'There,' he said. 'You're ready now.'

The ridiculousness of it-- the absolute absurdity, sent me into uncontrollable laughter.  I mean wet-your-pants, snot-out-your-nose kind of laughter.  It was so funny, so perfect, so EXACTLY what I needed in that moment.

Later, when I told that story to a dear friend, he said, 'Never forget-- THAT is the man you married.'

Those are probably the most important words anyone said to me in my first year of marriage, and they have stuck with me the last five years.  L is not perfect. (Sorry, beeb, but no.)  But the man I married is a man who always holds the door open for others.  A man who has no problem arguing with an insurance company to get them to cover a Medela breast pump for me.  A man sent out an SOS to the entire state of Minnesota when my pregnancy with Aaron started to go nuts.  A man who can quote Airplane! with me.  A man who loves The Whopper.  A man who supported my decision to publish a book. A man who, in the last week, has spent every moment possible at his father's side as he recovers from open-heart surgery.

A man who loves me, loves our kids, and loves our life.

Even the hard parts, and the scary parts, and the parts that are chaotic and unfair.  No, he is isn't perfect, and neither am I.  Neither is our marriage.

(Except these guys.  They're pretty perfect.)

But after five years of marriage, I can say that those words still ring true.

THAT is the man I married:

And I love him.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Woman in her Thirties Prays

I was raised Catholic.  Hard-core, total-immersion, holy-days-of-obligation Catholic.  Being raised this way isn't just an extension of who you are, it is the foundation of who you are.  If you were raised in a deeply religious household, you know what I'm talking about.  It's an integral part of your identity.

I had a very good experience growing up Catholic, but like most people, have struggled with my faith.  For me, I struggle the most with separating the faith from the politics, the human interpretation from the divine intent.  But if there is one thing that I got from my years of Catholic school and from the priest who has been an important part of my family's life for many years, it's that the struggles are okay.  So is the questioning.  Faith is not supposed to be easy, homies.  I'm pretty sure those were Jesus' exact words.

I am usually okay with living this type of spiritual life.  Going to church, going through the 'motions', and more importantly, being part of the community and experiencing that presence in my life.  Questioning, re-discovering, then questioning more.

And then reality hits, and you're all, like, wha?

Two things happened in the last couple of weeks.

1.  This guy:

...who had some weird red spots on his belly, which the vet thought were bug bites. Turns out our little Dan was very, very sick and needed some serious medical intervention.  It was a scary few days.

2.  This guy...

...who has been nothing short of a father figure to me for the last eleven years, and the most loving and doting grandfather in the world to my children.  Turns out Anna's medical equipment is a little faulty, and Ye Ye is now recovering from triple bypass surgery.

I, the good Catholic girl, who goes to church and owns multiple rosaries and can say the NEW Nicene Creed by heart, discovered something important about myself in all of this worry:

I have no idea how to pray.

The loss of control in both of these situations hit me hard. The worry, the panic, the fear, all of the things that should lead me to the comfort of my faith to get me through, overtook me.  My prayers sounded a lot like this:

Lovely lady dressed in blue... Oh my god what if....
Our Father who art in Heaven... how about I bring some dinner over to my in-laws tomorrow...
Hail Mary, don't get distracted, get through this... Dressed in blue... wait, that's the wrong one.  How can this be happening?
Whoever is listening, please protect my family.  Help us through this scary time.  And sorry for all the bad words I've been saying lately, especially regarding whoever bonked my car in the Target parking lot. What a... oops.  Sorry.  Amen.

When I got the call on Thursday from L that his dad's surgery had been successful, I felt like I could breathe again for the first time in two weeks.  And that was when the praying started, the prayers that I am comfortable saying, the prayers that have connected me to my faith for the last thirty-five years.

Thank you, God!  Thank you thank you thankyouthankyouthankyou!

Over the last couple of days, the prayers of thanksgiving have continued to flow.  Thank you for the family I married into, thank you for the dog that we happened upon, thank you for my sweet babies who have the ability to cut the tension in a heart surgery waiting room with a green tutu:

and sparkly pink toes:

And thank you for the friends and family who have prayed with us.  However you did it, it worked.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Woman in her Thirties is Branded

Okay, it's time.

I've been putting it off because even though the wheels have been in motion for awhile now, something about putting it out there here, on this blog, felt like a point of no return.  But in reality, I have been past the point of no return for a long time now.  So here is the deal.

I am publishing a book!  It is meant for 6th-8th graders and is called The Take Back of Lincoln Junior High.  It's about a middle school that takes corporate sponsors over federal funding.  Here is the cover:

Crazy, right!!  That is the cover of the book I am going to publish.

Take a look at the lower right corner.  See that big yellow circle? It says "Teachable Lit Study Guide Included".  That is because I, your humble woman in her thirties, have a brand:

You can read more about it here, but essentially the brand involves me writing books that include:

- no sex, violence, swearing, and yucky gratuity
- a study guide based on the Common Core Standards

I won't bore you with the details, but if you're an English teacher (or know an English teacher or love an English teacher), the study guide is meant to make their lives easier.  Activities, essay prompts, etc.

I'm blogging here:

I write about books I love, why I think they're teachable, and other teaching-related stuff.  My main activity as been through twitter, which I always discounted as the crappiest social media tool ever, but has turned out to be an awesome way for me to connect with other teachers and writers.  You can follow me @teachablelit.  If you want and stuff.

Oh!  And you can like my Facebook page.  Though I'm really struggling with the whole Facebook thing, because Facebook kind of sucks.  More on this later.

So that is the deal.  I feel like I have just exposed my alter-ego.  I'll update you a little on this blog about the book stuff, but I want to keep this one as it is for the most part.  Cute kid pics, desperate cries for help in parenting, and stories of me peeing my pants.

Thank you to everyone reading this (so many!) who have believed in me and helped me throughout this whole journey.  All of this is already dedicated to you!