Snow in Houston, Texas (and t-rex Christmas cards)

Last night, it snowed here.  In Houston, Texas.  It happened yet again.  What miracles lie before us?  It began after I went to sleep, and didn’t begin to stick until after I woke up for a bathroom break in the middle of the night.  So, I woke up to snow covering everything that wasn’t concrete this morning.  Which, when you think about it, is kind of the best kind of snow – you don’t have to shovel or worry about tire chains or anything, but you get to have beautiful snow everywhere around you.

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The hit of the morning was arriving to school.  My mom drove me in, because we were going to a Christkindlmarkt (German Christmas market) together after school, and the market was too far away for me to drive home first and then go, and it didn’t make sense for us to drive two cars out there.  She was staying for a bit, because we had Mass at school for the Immaculate Conception, and this was a chance for her to see the school a little bit.  Pulling into the parking lot (vacant of teachers, because we were so early), we discovered a sort of snowball fight happening in the picnic table area next to the lot.  We didn’t have much snow on the ground, but the kids were making some snowballs out of it, and throwing them around at one another.  It was adorable.

Naturally, my mom declared that I had to make a snowball, as we were leaving the car.  I grabbed an already-made snowball from the ground, which had lost only a bit after originally falling there, and showed it to her.  As she eyed me up while she finished off her own snowball, I realized that she intended to throw hers at me.

And so the fight began.

My mom and I, shuffling around a parking lot and a small grassy area with snow about it, picking up and throwing odd snowballs at one another, practically screeching with delight.  When I was turned away, a snowball hit her square in the back of the head.  No one was too near us, though, so it had come a long way.  And these were a little tough for regular snowballs, so it definitely hurt her a bit in the moment (stung, perhaps, is the appropriate word here).  It didn’t ruin out fun, of course, but merely added to the silliness of the whole affair – one of my students had attacked my mother with a snowball*.  No part of that declaration makes sense for living here, in Houston, Texas.  😛

In class, before Mass, kids lined up at the windows to stare at the snow in the courtyard below and on the roofs within view.  This was only the second time in their lives that it has snowed here, so their fascination with it was completely understandable, and utterly adorable.

Today had some magic, that’s for sure.

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*I found out later that the student who hit my mom actually was a student of mine.  He asked me ‘who that teacher was, walking with me earlier,’ and, when I asked for clarification, he described the morning snowball affair.  “That was my mom.”  In shock, he declared that he thought it was a teacher and asked me to tell my mom that he was sorry for what he did to her.  (My mom and I laughed at the thought that he apologized for having hit my mom, but that is seems to be the case that he willingly would hit a teacher in the head with a hard snowball, without question.)

P.S.  My task today was to “[d]raw a Christmas card”.  So, I drew one on the roof of my mom’s car tonight as we were leaving the Christkindlmarkt.  Frost had begun to reappear all over the place.

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Post-a-day 2017

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Moms and being young at heart

My mom came home late tonight, and walked into my room with a surprise for me.  Bop It Extreme (R) with newly replaced batteries.  I asked if she was teasing me, because it was actually just going to make some absurd sound after sitting for over a decade, but she declared that she had found it today and had put in new batteries specifically because she recalled that I had liked the game.

I showed her how I always held it, told her about the sounds for scoring, and convinced her to play the group version with me, passing it back and forth together.  We were both laughing like little kids.  It was fabulous.

Afterward, we began discussing family activities for our family open house the Saturday before Christmas, while we have family all in town.  The main topic of this discussion was cooked decorating.  As my mom listed off the number of dog houses, campers, trains, houses, sweaters, and ninjas she had, we couldn’t contain our growing smiles.  She ended with, “and a partridge in a pear tree,” and we both laughed while she figured out what she actually had not yet listed (there is no partridge and no pear tree).  I said that it sounded more like a “The dog, in the camper, with the nunchucks,” kind of scenario.  She argued that the dog goes in the doghouse, though, but then declared that that is why the dog is in the doghouse – because he was the one in the camper with the nunchucks…

Can you tell we are young at heart?  I sure love it.  😀

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Post-a-day 2017

Bring your parents to work?

Do you remember showing your parent(s) around your classroom when you were little?  Perhaps this is a little too American white bread, but I certainly remember it.

I was all too excited to show them my sleeping mat and cubby hole when I was in kindergarten, and then my desk and the hook for my backpack as I got older in elementary school.  In middle school, it became my locker, where I sat for lunch, and my favorite classrooms and teachers, but with just a little less enthusiasm each year.  By high school, I was not so animated as I had been as a little girl, but I still loved getting to show my parents or family members around my school.  Grandparents Day was one of the coolest things, because I got to do just that with my grandparents.  College was a little different, because it’s college.  However, I still totally loved showing my parents around my campus and dorms, and introducing them to all of my friends and acquaintances and teachers that I could find.  Even when I studied abroad, I reveled in showing them my stomping grounds.

And it was normal at each stage to be showing my parents around the areas.  But it is not normal now.  Why does that suddenly stop when we become “adults” and being “real jobs”?  I don’t know of anyone who shows his or her parents or family members around his/her office.

But now that I am an adult and I have a job (I’ve had many already, actually), my desire to show around my parents and family members hasn’t changed.  When my brother was visiting from Japan, I desperately wanted him to come see my classroom, see my apartment.  I giddily showed my mom around my first school (for my first full-time teaching job), when I convinced her to come to a dance performance there one evening.  My desire to have my parents be able to relate to my everyday has not lessened, not at all.  I still want them to see my everyday stomping grounds.  And, for the most part, I’ve been able to get them to see a decent amount of it these past few years.  Even in Japan, where guests aren’t typically allowed on campus, I got to bring my mom to both of my schools, and she helped teach a cooking class for the English Club at one school, and helped out with English classes at the other.

So, I guess my concern isn’t all too valid after all… I somehow manage to make it happen for me, anyway.  However, I do still wish that it were more of a cultural standard to bring one’s parents and/or family members to work, at least for a coffee or tea hour, or something like that, just so they can have a real glimpse of what it all is.  I just think it would be way awesome.  Kind of like how Open House used to be, where I’d go meet my teachers with my parent/s, and show my parent/s around my school.  Man… this would be neat.  It also would be very helpful in cross-(whatever the word is for work areas – I’m tired, okay?) interaction and understanding.  My dad works in computers and oil & gas.  He would be amazed to see my work, and I to see his.  They are just such different worlds that we have much to be learned from interacting with one another’s worlds.

I imagine loads of people would be utterly uninterested in this idea, but I hope that loads also would be in full support of it.

Post-a-day 2017

Hers, mine, & ours

I have been teaching during someone’s maternity leave recently, and I discovered something today – when the teacher returns, I will have been with the students more than she has.  Just now, I checked the calendar, and it seems that I have already been with them for longer than she was, due to Hurricane Harvey.  It is odd to me to consider that these kids would be more my students than her students.  It is her class, and I have always seen it that way.  So have the kids.  And so we likely will continue to live in this odd little my world within her world setup, where the kids are, indeed, mine, but we are all hers.  Something like that, anyway.

I will miss these kids.  If I really think about it, …well, no I don’t do that.  Whenever I begin actually to consider it, my eyes grow hot and threaten an outpouring of tears.  I suppose I really do love the kids so much, even though they drive me frustrated so often as they do.  They know I love them, and so do I.  And it is difficult to consider that I no longer will see these people who have been part of my daily life for so long, and as we all have worked through so much together.

A teacher friend of mine sent me a message tonight, saying how we needed to do something, because she missed me.  It turns out that neither one of us has done much other than school lately.  This time in particular, even more so than other times I have taught, the students are my social interactions in life.  I call my mom in the evenings, because I am craving adult interaction.  I don’t have interaction with friends.  I just have these kids.  In a sense, they are my friends, and I have no others (whom I see, anyway).  And so I will miss them all greatly, and even some of the stupid stresses they force upon me, like throwing ice at one another in class or unknowingly rejecting a beautiful opportunity to learn and to help themselves become beautiful successes in life.  Yes, I will miss these kids who are not mine, but mine.  I love them dearly.

Post-a-day 2017

a day to consider my life

I stayed home from school today, sick.  Just like when I was younger, my mom made me feel guilty for even considering staying home.  That is one thing that I do not miss about living in a different country from my mom.  I fully thought through the situation, before deciding anything – if I had had anyone else feeling as I felt this morning, I would have wanted the person to stay home (and also stay away from me).  This was not about disliking my work, as it has been in the past at times.  I was genuinely sick (and still am).

My mom doesn’t get sick very often, and only has a sort of slight cold, whenever she does get sick.  But she gets to sleep.  I used to be like that, rarely getting sick, and having it be mild, just requiring water and a single night’s sleep to rid myself of it.  But working life stole my long nights of sleep and weekends of rest, and traded stress and distaste for them.  I clearly am not a fan of the trade – I now get sick regularly, though mostly just when it’s cold out.

So, today, I stayed home, sick.  I handled what I needed for work, gargled some warm salt water, and then went back to sleep.  I woke up once, in desperate need of a potty break, and then downed some more water, and went back to sleep.  I didn’t really get up until my second potty break awakening, and, even then, I only got up, because it was 1:30pm, not because I felt ready to get up.

Now, late at night, I am hardly able to stay awake to accomplish my bedtime goals, despite my sleep from last night.  I am only awake this late anyway, because my mom and I agreed to watch a film together, and it was pushed back, and then paused and rewound so many times, that our initial ending time of 9:30pm was much later.

Anyway, the whole point of this is that 1) I need more sleep in my daily life (or nightly, I suppose), 2) I really enjoyed spending the day working on some writing (that’s what I did, once I was awake and having tea), and 3) I found today ironic.  While I was in Japan, all alone so often, including when I was sick, and just longing to have someone be with me, like it had been back in the USA, I had longed to have someone spend time with me and take care of me when I was feeling poorly, and expected to find that once back in the US.  But I was all alone today, on my first sick day in the USA.  And I really got to be alone with my thoughts, which was useful and somewhat frightening.  I have much more to consider in my life right now, and today helped me to see some unique parts of it all.

A fun final piece of my illness today, is that I discovered it surprisingly satisfying to eat the heads of Darth Vader and the Clones in my Star Wars SpaghettiOs.  I haven’t had SpaghettiOs in years, but this was a fun one to have, especially for being sick.

Post-a-day 2017

Making space in my life

Today, I spent almost an hour going through clothes, organizing, folding, and putting them away into a dresser, etc., as well as going through four boxes of books and organizing them better and putting them onto a bookshelf.  I have two new small sections of floor visible in my room.


That’s a message I just sent to my brother.  Tomorrow onward, I have to spend at least 15 minutes each day, doing cleanup/clean-out in my bedroom and/or bathroom, six days a week.  I am reporting the completed tasks to one of my brothers each day.

This has been one of the most difficult things in my life, moving to a near-minimalist lifestyle.  We have this bit in our DNA, in our blood, that has us sit as though we need hoarding in our lives.  My brothers and I have been intent on freeing ourselves from its grasp.  I am the youngest, and have spent the most time with the family who exudes the gene so obviously, so I am the last to reach my own breaking point – I will live free of this.  Now, I am simply dealing with my own laziness and exhaustion after a full day of work.

For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t able to get rid of things.  I had clothing, among other things, that I did not want to wear.  And yet, I could not get rid of it.  Today, I noticed that, if the cashier girl had complemented my bracelet, I would have offered it to her willingly.  And this isn’t just any bracelet – it’s one of the natural stone bracelets that I made.  I love these bracelets.  It is as though I am two different people in these two scenarios.  The difference was what happened one day in my apartment.

I was looking around at my colorful explosion of clothing all over my wall bedroom floor.  I enjoyed the color and the explosion at first, but I’d wanted it to go away after, at most, an hour…, and it hadn’t, and I knew it wouldn’t.  I didn’t even have enough space to store all of the clothes around me, so putting them away just wasn’t an actual option.  After some amount of time, I found myself crying, sobbing, really.  I don’t want this stuff, I cried to myself passionately, so why can’t I get rid of it?  And then the revelation hit me: I would be wasting my mom’s hard-earned money.

My mom was a mom initially, once she started having children.  After she and my dad split up, she had to take on a more full-time work schedule, on top of being a mom.  And she was a massage therapist, so her work was physical labor.  I grew up knowing that the money she earned took a good amount of effort.  It kind of was “hard-earned money”.  And, for me, if I ever were to get rid of something, I felt to my core that I was wasting my mom’s efforts.  And it applied to just about anything I had, whether it had come from her or not.  I just couldn’t get rid of anything, because I subconsciously saw it as a sort of slap to my mom’s face, theoretically, of course.  That very day, when I found myself sobbing on the floor amongst my clothing, and I discovered this simple fact, I was able to begin getting rid of things.  By the end of only a few days, I had two or three huge trash bags of clothing ready for donation.  (My cousin went through them first, just to pull out whatever she would use gladly from it all, because we always do that, anyway, and then she dropped them off at the place by where she lived.)

After that week, my struggle has just been laziness.  I have a couple decades worth of things that have been living at my mom’s house.  I have gone through about 15 years’ worth of boxes and bags so far, and things are really looking up.  I have accumulated less and less these past several years, and so I really only have about 7 years’ worth of things left  to clear out.  I know of, I believe, two boxes in the attic, and an unknown number hiding somewhere in the garage.  Otherwise, I only have two and a half small boxes remaining in my room from childhood.  The rest of the boxes are from my apartment, and I don’t exactly have a need to be unpacking kitchen supplies, nor getting rid of them, when I’ll just need them all again in another couple months.  I do, however, want to verify that I don’t have any excesses in those boxes, though that will wait until I finish getting rid of all of the other stuff, and possibly until I am actually moving, depending on the timeframe.

My plan is to finish things with my bedroom by the 30th of December at 11:00p.m.  Then, I’ll have January and February (and hopefully cool weather) to do whatever needs to be done with the garage and attic.  After that, I can move to helping my mom with whatever I can around the rest of the house.  And then, possibly, grad school begins, and I decide where I will reside.

Anyway, that’s just what’s on my mind right now.  I feel good about what I accomplished tonight, though I know I need to take things slowly, which stresses me.  If I spend too much time on it all, two things will happen.  I will get burnt out quickly, and stop doing things altogether to clean up/out, and I will get too little sleep, and suffer for it.  So, as much as I dislike taking so long on all of this, the task moves from daunting to doable, when I split it to 15 minutes a day, six days a week.  And that means that I can have it all be happening while I’m still working over full=time.  I’m looking for a beautiful and easy transition to January, and that includes a clean, clear, and organized room, with an easy place to work.  So, I’m hopping to it, and I have my brother helping me to stay accountable, in spite of my laziness.

Post-a-day 2017