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Today is my half birthday, and I'm missing my mom

Friday, February 03, 2012

My birthday is in August, and as a child, we were often travelling to coastal regions so that my father, who was in college, could work on research for his MS and then PhD. He's a coastal geologist, who specialized in sea level change and erosion/accretion and all that stuff - so we had wonderful summers on beaches, but it also meant that my birthday wasn't celebrated by having a big party with all of my friends.

I grew up in a family with 5 children - my sister had special emotional needs, my brothers were a handful - and I was the quiet kid, the good kid, the one everyone counted on for help or support. Didn't cause problems, didn't complain, just did what needed to be done.

So my mother - who was sort of the good kid when she was growing up - decided that my birthday in August would be my family party - and some years my birthday party was chicken pot pies in our trailer or rented cabin. But she also decided my friend birthday party would be on my half birthday, in February. So for a few years (about ages 8 to 12-ish) I had my half birthday party, complete with friends, balloons, presents, cake, ice cream, the whole bit. I have absolutely no idea what those friends (or their parents!) thought, but my mom was kind of known as being unconventional, and this was probably accepted as just another one of Norma's ideas.

I thought it was wonderful. I STILL think it was wonderful. I had two days a year when I was the star, when my sister's and brothers' needs didn't overwhelm me, when I had everyone's attention (even if it was only for an hour or so). I had the party with my friends, and didn't miss out on that, the way so many summer birthday kids do.

And I knew that my mom knew that I was the overlooked kid, and that I was special to her.

So at times like this, I really do miss my mom.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NOMIS1 2/11/2012 12:01PM

    Happy belated 1/2 birthday.

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EDDYMEESE 2/7/2012 7:05PM

    This is so fantastic! Your mom sounds like she was a very special lady :)

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RAINSTORM17 2/4/2012 8:55PM

    Happy half Birthday. What a cute story. It's awesome the things mom's do to make us feel like we are very special and so deeply loved. I still miss my mom too! emoticon

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JLPNURSE 2/4/2012 11:03AM

    That is such a sweet story and happy half birthday!

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PHEBESS 2/4/2012 8:52AM

    Too funny, Boss!

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BOSS61 2/4/2012 7:22AM

    Alright so the parallels here are uncanny. Where to begin?

1. I am a geologist. My undergraduate research project was on coastal processes, theories of inlet formation on barrier islands, storm effects on beach erosion and deposition patterns...

2. Our daughter has an August birthday.

3. We frequently threw her parties for her friends on her February half-birthday, as no one seemed around when the actual date rolled around in August.

4. Our daughter feels sometimes overlooked. Nothing could be further from the truth, but her perception is her reality.

So I guess all of this makes me your Dad, huh?

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TARABEAR 2/4/2012 12:16AM

    I love this! People have suggested it to me since Teagan's birthday is so close to the holidays but I didn't know anyone who actually did it. Those are very special memories you have. Sounds like you had a wonderful mom!

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PHEBESS 2/3/2012 5:21PM

    Mary Anne, I never met anyone else who did the half birthday thing before!!!! How cool!!!!!!

And I have to add, DH brought home flowers for my half b'day!!!!!

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MILLISMA 2/3/2012 5:10PM

    I had to read your blog. My daughter is also an August baby and we would celebrate her half birthday. Too funny.

emoticon emoticon

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    Your mother's intuition and understanding that birthdays are at the top of a kid's list make her perfect, as does knowing where all her children fit into the family picture. Now that you write about it, I recall summer babes wishing they'd been born during the school year so they, too, could have parties in class as well as at home.

A very merry unbirthday to you (to you -- with a tip of the top hat). Enjoy the sweetness of your memories.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon


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PHEBESS 2/3/2012 10:01AM

    You all make me blush!

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BATYAFA 2/3/2012 10:00AM

    Wow! What a wonderful idea! It takes a very special person to come up with an idea like that! No wonder you miss her - but what very special memories you have of her!!
Well, have a wonderful half-birthday, and remember, there are 363 non-birthdays left in the year to celebrate!
Shabbat shalom!
Batya emoticon

Comment edited on: 2/3/2012 10:01:15 AM

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CRYSTALJEM 2/3/2012 9:34AM

    You had a very special mom. I hope you have a very happy half birthday. What a wonderful memory and tradition. My son is that 'good kid' and I appreciate him so much for that. I hope I am able to make him as aware of it as your mom did with you. I have just started visiting you recently, but you sound like you must be a lot like your mom.

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SAPNA. 2/3/2012 8:57AM

    Wow, your mother was amazing and empathetic. What a wonderful lady. They say the apple does not fall far from the tree, and you are just like her. A perfect apple on a perfect tree.

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PHEBESS 2/3/2012 7:53AM

    Ellen, you always know what to say! (Besides, I look just like my mom!

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WATERMELLEN 2/3/2012 7:48AM

    Your mother clearly was a genius mother: and her sensitivity towards the needs of others is something you've brought to your teaching, clearly. So: she lives on in you.

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Another update on Little Mr. Orange Kitty

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Remember him? He's the very cute kitty that a few of us fed last year at school, and finally caught and took him to the vet for neutering - then he was adopted by one of our counselors and his wife.

I ran into the wife at the post office - the cat (they call him Ronnie) is big and cute and loving.

And he brought home two stray kittens!!!!!!!

One looks just like him, so he's named RJ (for Ronnie Junior) - although obviously he isn't his own son. The other, a girl, is marble-colored - so her name is Mabel.

Seriously, the lady told me these two stray kittens were hanging out with Ronnie when she and her husband got home one day, and they've been tamed enough to come inside and sleep - though they aren't willing to be touched yet.

I can totally see Little Mr. Orange Kitty happening upon these two kittens while he was out roaming - "Hey, I know how it feels, I used to be homeless too. Why don't you come home with me, these nice people like cats and they'll feed you too!"

Just such a funny little vignette! And yay for LMOK for rescuing his own little kitties!!!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PHEBESS 2/14/2012 9:14PM

    A stray showed up at our house (when I was a teenager) - my mom said, "Okay, let's feed him, maybe he'll go away."

We all laughed - like that would work!!!!!!

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TRULYVISIBLE 2/14/2012 4:42PM

  Love the story being a cat lover and living with one. My cat is indoor and doesn't bring home anyone but the two strays in the neighborhood know I am good for a free meal so come around.

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EDDYMEESE 2/7/2012 7:04PM

    Thanks for the update! It is such a sweet story :)

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JLPNURSE 2/4/2012 11:02AM

    That is just too darn cute!

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PHEBESS 2/3/2012 10:21AM

    I love the altruistic attitude of LMOK! He's a giant among cats (or something like that!)

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SHORTY20 2/3/2012 9:20AM

    Awww, that's a cute story!

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ILOVEROSES 2/2/2012 8:09PM

    What a lovely story! emoticon+ emoticon+ emoticon=happy family!

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WATERMELLEN 2/2/2012 7:39PM

    This is a wonderful story . . . and love the name "Mabel"!!

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PHEBESS 2/2/2012 5:09PM

    I know, Myrna! He found his own pets!

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SAPNA. 2/2/2012 2:41PM

    I have never heard of that before. What a wonderful cat!

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GAYLLYNNE 2/2/2012 2:13PM

    Isn't that sweet! Lucky little kitties!

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TARABEAR 2/2/2012 1:19PM

    So sweet!

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MARCHEM 2/2/2012 12:31PM

    Glad to hear LMOK and his new buddies are doing well. I guess humans aren't the only ones to pay it forward.

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LILRED75 2/2/2012 10:35AM

  Way to go Little Mr. Orange Kitty. He's no dummy!

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MISTRESSC 2/2/2012 10:34AM

    I love stories like this. I am an animal lover!

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"She's got legs, and she knows how to use them"

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I have to laugh (and the small things are what gets me through the day) - I put on a watermelon red top today, white shorts, and pink Birks - because I'm working on the mural, and just can't get back into a clean dress after 3 hours in my cement-covered overalls. And I'm wearing pink this week, because my student Aliya always wore a pink hoodie - so my pink this week is in remembrance of her.

But the white shorts are baggy linen shorts, and the long red top just was the wrong length - there wasn't any balance.

So I pulled the shorts off, and grabbed a brown knit cargo skit and pulled that on - voila, it went with the ensemble.

The skirt is short. At least 2" above the knee. With my square shades, and a navy blue cotton jacket (asymmetric zip and stand up collar) - well, I arrived at school knowing I looked HOT.

I walked to my classroom, past the girls lined up for breakfast. Who eyed me up and down, looking pointedly at my legs and the length of the skirt. The message in their eyes saying, "Who is SHE walking in all dressed up in a short skirt??!!??"

I had to laugh, it was funny. Because yes, it was a short skirt - shorter than the students are allowed to wear. And yes, because I KNEW I looked good. I have good legs, always have had them. Strong. Long. Shapely. And I wear short skirts to distract attention from my moderate bust and lack of a waist. Because seriously, if you have killer legs and they show, well, that's what people will look at and they'll ignore the rest for a while.

So yes, I'm strutting those legs around the school. Because I seriously DO know how to use them, LOL!!!!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WATERMELLEN 2/1/2012 8:05PM

    I love shorter skirts too . . . and always say, "the legs are the last to go"!!

Your outfit sounds very cute!!

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MILLISMA 1/27/2012 8:38PM

    emoticon emoticon

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JLPNURSE 1/27/2012 7:08PM

    Flaunt what you got is what I say :)

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CRYSTALJEM 1/26/2012 9:00PM


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TARABEAR 1/26/2012 1:43PM


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ILOVEROSES 1/26/2012 7:02AM

    Good on you! emoticon

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SAPNA. 1/26/2012 6:44AM

    if you've got it flaunt it!

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PHEBESS 1/25/2012 1:27PM

    ZZ Top, according to youtube.

My last class said nothing, LOL! And they're usually quite mouthy!

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MARCHEM 1/25/2012 12:59PM

    Good for you!

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PROVERBS31JULIA 1/25/2012 12:23PM

    I love this!!

I have horrible legs, they've always been stumpy even when I was thinner... hair was always considered a good asset and so I'd wear darker pants and put all the spots of color up high - hair bows, barrettes, or dangly earrings, just to make people look up high and "nevermind what's under those dark pants!" (to misquote the Wizard of Oz "Nevermind the man behind the green curtain!").

Yep, if you've got 'em, flaunt 'em!!

Wasn't that Rod Stewart who sang about "Hot Legs"?? I forget....

Great story!


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BOSS61 1/25/2012 12:00PM

    Next it will be three Texan guitarists with long beards and sunglasses, performing on MTV circa 1985. Good for you that you have the self-confidence (and legs) to pull this off!

Comment edited on: 1/25/2012 12:01:00 PM

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DESUE55 1/25/2012 11:47AM

    Hey there hot mama!!! I absolutely love your blog today!

emoticon emoticon

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Ripples and repurcussions

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The teachers are still shell-shocked - some students have not been to my class, they are with other teachers who are working with them. Some students can't stop crying. Some are wooden-faced.

And some are repeating every gory detail and/or every rumor that they hear.

While I understand that some people process tragedy this way, I don't. I'm way too imaginative, I can picture every single thing they say. And I don't want to. I don't want to remember my student suffering her last moments on this earth. I want to remember her as the happy and smiling and inquisitive student I had for two years.

So even though one student's brother was on the scene, and I'm sure he has all the details, and I'm sure he will need counseling and support to cope with what he went through - I don't want to hear it.

Twice today, I've told students that Aliya was my student, and I really can't hear all about the sad details. And could they please step out of earshot to talk about this.

They've been very respectful of that. I appreciate their understanding. And I'm giving them space to process tragedy in their own way.

I also appreciate the fact that I teach art, and I can take those students who want to discuss the details, and send them with trays of tile to the auditorium - so they can work on the project but talk along the way.

Because right now - and maybe forever - I want to remember this child smiling.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WATERMELLEN 1/24/2012 10:29PM

    So sad. It's good that your students are able to respect your wishes around this. And learn something from you, too, about grieving in an authentic and genuine way.

I hope you will be able to find some comfort in the knowledge that you gave so much to her . . . and to so many of your students.

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ILOVEROSES 1/24/2012 8:48PM

    You're right, Aliya would want you to remember her always smiling. emoticon

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GITTYB 1/24/2012 6:43PM

    oh, phebes! i feel so sad for you. May you be comforted. emoticon

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MILLISMA 1/24/2012 5:08PM

    You are so want the good memories and not the final details. Sorry that you are going through this.


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SAPNA. 1/24/2012 2:16PM

    That is how she would want to be remembered. With a smile and a wave.

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DESUE55 1/24/2012 12:57PM

    Remembering the good in them and their smiling faces is such in incredible way to remember them!


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MARCHEM 1/24/2012 12:47PM

    I'm so sorry that you are going through this. You are handling it well and I'm glad the students are being understanding. emoticon

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I'm going around giving teachers and principals hugs

Monday, January 23, 2012

We all need them. The school is somber and quiet - relatives of the girls killed in yesterday's accident, friends, all of us who knew them - we're all red-eyed and just sad.

So today's quotation:

No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

- John Donne

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JLPNURSE 2/1/2012 8:35AM

    emoticon for you too. This situation is so difficult.

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MILLISMA 1/23/2012 6:20PM

    Hugs mean so much. Wish I could give you all some! emoticon

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DESUE55 1/23/2012 8:56AM

    I'm glad that you have the support of fellow teachers so that you are not alone in your loss. The quote was perfect too.


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SAPNA. 1/23/2012 8:54AM

    There but for fortune go you or I. Terrible tragedy may God comfort the mourners.

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ELRIDDICK 1/23/2012 8:53AM

  Thanks for sharing

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