Sunday, April 2, 2017

Saturday Stories 2017--Fairy Tales

I grew up with fairy tales.

I love them. One of my most precious treasures from my childhood is a huge book of fairy tales that I received on Christmas Eve one year. In its pages I fell in love with Beauty and the Beast. I remember when the original animated movie came out and I was disappointed at how ferocious the beast was, because in my version of the tale, the beast was kind and gentle from the beginning. I adjusted to the Disney version and love it almost as much, but I was thrilled when one bit of the original tale crept into the new release--Maurice's desire to return home to Belle with her requested rose. That made me smile, only to myself, for no one else would understand the importance of that small detail unless they are familiar with the original story.

I love fairy tales because my mom loves fairy tales. She shared two of her own precious childhood fairy tale books with me when I was about ten years old. The books were yellowed along the edges and each tale had one or two pictures to illustrate the story. Mom trusted me with her copies of the books, even though the covers were barely attached (and I soon lost them through multiple readings).

Her favorite quickly became one of my favorites, The Twelve Dancing Princesses--twelve sisters who secretly escaped their locked room every night and the soles of their shoes were worn paper thin by morning while they danced the night away at a castle that could only be reached inside a boat shaped like a swan. I love that story and can see the illustration of the crippled man who solved the mystery in my mind. I've also always been secretly glad that Disney has never commandeered it and commercialized it. The images in my mind will always be enough for me.

Imagination is one of the unsung but most valuable gifts of childhood, and I will always be grateful to a mom who cultivated my love for fairy tales. I wasn't as careful with my own children's exposure to the tales of my childhood, but Eve surprised me Friday after school as I got a quick dinner ready in the kitchen.

"Mom, can I read you my new library book? It's called The Twelve Dancing Princesses."

The title got my full attention. Was it the same as my fairy tale?

She sat against the cabinet for ten minutes, and I listened as I cooked.

It was almost the same. And all the memories of my childhood flooded back--time spent in my bedroom with the door shut, dreaming of dancing the night away.

As I write this post, Eve is reading her library book aloud again. This time, her grandma is on speaker phone, listening to her granddaughter share the beautiful story.

Some moments stay always in memory.

I never could have imagined the full circle this one would take.

Friday, March 31, 2017

O Captain My Captain

Do you remember Dead Poets' Society? I  love this movie.

Remember this moment?
John Keating is one of my teaching heroes, and I've used many clips from the movie in class this year. After my first week of teaching, my friend/almost daughter Ashley sent me this text:

Teaching this year has made my life (in the words of John Keating) "extraordinary." I love almost every moment. I never anticipated how I love each of the students like they are my own and want all good things for them in class and in life. They are incredible, and the touch my heart daily with their passion, their insight, their humor, and their goodness.

It's been life changing, and I don't use that term lightly.

Here's the thing.

A week ago, I actually lived a movie moment in my classroom--the "O Captain, My Captain" moment shown above (minus the me packing my stuff and getting fired part, thankfully).

One of my students spearheaded a standing on desks moment. It was surreal. I stood by and listened as he told of ways I had taught them all this year--him in particular. I wish someone had a video of it, because I was so shocked that I can't remember all that was said. As he spoke, he walked to the back of the classroom and stood behind one of the desks.

"As a tribute to Mrs. Denton and her teaching . . . "

he stood up on the desk

". . . I say, O Captain, My Captain. And I challenge any of the rest of you to stand on your desks as well."

Half of the class stood on their desks, and many of them spoke of what they've learned in my class this year--writing skills, trust in themselves and in others.

And with that, he walked out of the classroom.

I watched him leave with my mouth gaping open and my heart overflowing with gratitude for the kids I teach. Even writing about it now brings tears to my eyes.

It was a moment I never expected and one I will treasure for the rest of my life . . .

. . . the moment I lived one of my favorite movies.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Missing It

I keep meaning to get to my blog, but life and kids and home and school keep getting the best of me. So many things have happened around here that I'm afraid I will miss recording on our family blog.

Someone posted a video a week ago that forced me back into my archives to find a link of my own . . . and I remembered why I blog.

It's to remember.

I miss it.

And life causes me to forget.

I don't want to forget.

My circle necklace broke a few weeks ago, and I haven't taken the time to get it fixed.

I've worn a necklace every day for the last few years, and my neck feels bare without it. Without it in the mirror every morning, I've lost focus on my goals for the year.

I miss it.

I don't even have recent photos downloaded from my phone or camera. I know there are at least a dozen posts lurking in there, but my phone is upstairs and I threw my back out for the third time since school started and I'm not doing yoga to keep my back strong and I've gained 15 pounds because school distracts me from eating healthy and I have 1023 excuses every day.

I miss it.

Life should be calming down a bit this next week, and I hope to catch up on some blogging and photos and memories.

For now, and for today, here are pictures I took LAST CHRISTMAS that I don't want to forget.

Moments I captured.

Moments with my grandkids.

Moments I didn't miss.

There's still hope for me.
Having Tucker and Karli live with us has been incredible. I get to be part of Annie's and Eli's every day. One thing Annie loved was the Nativity, and one day, she brought her little Joseph over to join in.
I didn't take many pictures over Christmas, but these are a few of my favorites.

One morning we all walked down the street to our neighbor's house to play on the swings and teeter totter for a little while. The weather is heating up again, and I already miss the gorgeous AZ winter.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Saturday Stories 2017--Old-School Fast Food

I took the little girls to McDonald's for dinner last night. As I looked at that little french fries box from their Happy Meals, it took me back forty years to McDonald's trips with my own family.
I grew up in tiny Twin Falls, Idaho--a community that didn't reach 20,000 residents until I was in junior high. It was a great small town to grow up in. It was big enough not to know every single person in town, but small enough that driving ten minutes was "clear across town."

And we drove clear across town to McDonald's. 

It didn't happen very often. 

I have one memory of a McDonald's trip. My youngest sister still needed to be held at mealtime, and the restaurant didn't have a high chair. Dad ordered us three big kids each a cheeseburger (not a hamburger, which was a big deal because they cost more). Mom got a cheeseburger plain, as always--she would explain at the counter that meant "bun, meat, cheese, bun that's it"--and Dad got a Big Mac because he was "the dad." We got two small orders of fries to share and small drinks (which in that day was probably 12 oz.).

There was no play place. No video games. And no Happy Meals with junk toys from China.

And guess what?

We were happy, and we went home full.

And we didn't go back for months, I'm sure, because eating out was a luxury we couldn't afford very often.

Wow have times changed.

Friday, March 10, 2017

No Good, Very Bad Day

It was the worst of the worst Wednesday

Teaching is hard when Spring hits. Kids get distracted, kids want to be outside, kids make bad choices.

Teachers pay for it.

For all of the years I was in school (or that my kids have been in school) and I didn't appreciate how hard Spring is in a classroom, I apologize to you teachers.

I put in many extra hours over the weekend grading a big assignment and had a long meeting after school yesterday that I wasn't expecting. I walked in the door after 4 to the smell of dinner cooking--I'd forgotten my unusual foresight earlier that morning in putting a roast in the crockpot.

Thirty minutes later the smell wasn't quite so appetizing.

Who burns a roast in the CROCKPOT?

That would be me. I know you can't really tell because my crockpot is black, but trust me when I say that broth was not a base for a perfect au jus.

Alexander and I had much in common on that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

I wanted to crawl in bed and not get up again.

Instead, I called in a quick pizza order. And when the back door opened, I could hear my classically trained daughter-in-law singing some beautiful aria from her house.

That was enough to turn the day around enough so I could make it till bedtime.

That must be the solution--good pizza, beautiful music, and a forgiving family.

Not a day I will revisit often in my memory.

Yesterday was the last day of school before Spring Break. It, too, was a hard day, but luckily not as bad as its predecessor. I've never looked forward to a break more in my life, even as a student. Just as I was packing up my bag to leave, the secretary knocked on my office door with the most beautiful bouquet I've ever received in her arms.
All the anonymous note said was, "Thanks for all you do."

To whoever sent the flowers, thanks for making me smile and turning the bad days around.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Saturday Stories 2017--The Greatest Ever

I've felt a little guilty about my blog lately. I have a few posts I need to write from February, including my February goal update. Maybe I'll get to them tomorrow. I hope so. I miss the memories I record here.

The writing muse abandoned me over the last few weeks. Strange thing about the writing muse--she appears at random moments, then disappears just as quickly. Now that I'm working, she appears even less frequently. Today she appeared as I was deep cleaning the fridge.

I know. Why in the middle of a really important, really nasty job?

It was the music I chose, that's why. Music triggers my memories almost as quickly as smell.

Brad subscribed to Apple music almost a year ago, and I haven't found time to investigate it until this afternoon. I knew what I wanted to listen to as I cleaned. I watched this video a few days ago, and I'd forgotten how much I love Simon and Garfunkel.
As I cleaned months of stickiness and foulness from the glass shelves, I listened to an album I used to own on cassette tape in college--listened to all of it twice before Micah demanded silence from the kitchen as he practiced. Modern folk and indie artists owe much to these men and the groundwork they laid in the 60s and 70s. Who today can belt "Bridge over Troubled Water" the way Art Garfunkel did back then? And who today has the gift of incredible lyrics like Paul Simon? They are truly two of the greatest ever. The words came back to me quickly, and the time passed even faster.

And then the final song of the album came on (no shuffling for me).

I remembered my freshman year at BYU. My roommates--Melinda, Lisa, Paige, Anne, and of course Robin. I remembered listening to this album as we cleaned our apartment, but I will never forget listening to this song, rewinding it over and over as we drove from Provo to Salt Lake for a weekend away from school. Four of my roommates were from Salt Lake (very close to where my grandparents lived), and they let me tag along when there was room in the car. I stayed in my grandma's guest room on the squeaky bed, I slept as late as I wanted, ate homemade chocolates, played cards, and watched TV, and they both spoiled me rotten for two nights before it was time to get back to the grind of school and studies. 

Instead of roommates as my companions today, I danced with Annie to "Sound of Silence," watching her spin in her too big hand-me-down-from-Eve ballet slippers. I belted out "I Am a Rock" with my head deep in the belly of the fridge, remembering when I listened to these songs with my mom when I was growing up, placing the needle of the record player carefully on the spinning black disc. Simon and Garfunkel is part of the soundtrack of my childhood. Crazy to think these songs that were written the year I was born are almost fifty years old now, and my own little granddaughter is now sharing them with me.

Thanks to Simon and Garfunkel, my fridge sparkles and my rekindled memories shine.

And my writing muse returned, even if it's only temporary--I'm grateful.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Silence is something I get little of these days.

Between school, church, kids, family, vacation, and the occasional trip to Costco, my life is a constant whir of activity.

This morning I had thirty minutes alone on the couch in the family room.

Just me.

Strange how much I've missed this quiet thinking time.

Facebook brought up a memory today--one year ago today I started my part-time job tutoring. I can't believe how different my life is in one short year. School brings me a joy I never knew I was missing. I've found more of me. I feel more me.

And yet, I miss these quiet mornings alone, sitting in an empty house listening to . . . nothing.

My camera sits silent in its bag. I rarely touch it these days. I don't miss it until I read through someone else's stories or see the light land "just so" and think I should dust it off and capture the fleeting moments.

My blog has been silent for more than a week as well--family vacation, parenting duties, and school responsibilities were heavy. Part of me mourns the missed entries that lose my memories.

Life is different for me now--a completely different world of bell schedules and essay tests and lesson plans stirred into the crazy mix that is Denton Sanatorium. I love it all.

And yet . . .

The silence feeds my soul.

Is there ever a perfect balance in life?