Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spring Break, or a few days without the internet

I just spent 4 days without the internet. We did not have home internet for 10 days, but fortunately, I could keep up with the rest of the world at school. Now that I am on Spring Break, the loss of the internet was much more tangible.

If I was on a real vacation to some other place, it would not bother me in the least that I had no internet. But I have come to rely on the ability to look things up quickly. Sadly, our new service is not quite up to speed, so things are not coming as quickly as I had hoped. This DSL is seeming like dial-up. I hope we get the bugs out quickly.

It turns out you CAN use the internet too much. Comcast kicked us off because we downloaded too much. They don't actually want you to USE all the speed they give you. So we went to another provider. We've had some bugaboos to work out, though.

What am I doing with all my free time, you ask? Well, I actually read an entire book! In one day! I read the book The Shack. I heard about it online and on the radio, and my mom just happened to have read it. She loaned me her copy when we visited last Sat. It was quite moving. I loved some of the ideas and images of unselfish love. It was quite powerful. I loved the images of how God never leaves you, even when you cannot see or feel His presence. It was such a powerful reminder. It made me think about how my parents helped my siblings and I feel such unconditional love towards each other. Even as adults, we have strong bonds of love, and enjoy each other's company immensely. I hope that we as a family are able to keep that idea alive and strong in our own children. I love that so many of my online friends feel free to share the love of God with others. It can be such a blessing.

Other things over Spring Break....

We visited Key Lime Cove water park in Gurnee, IL. It was quite fun! The service was wonderful, except for when they ran out of towels about the time we needed them, and we had to wait about 25 minutes. I liked that fact that they overestimated the time things would need (like 30 minutes for towels which came in 25). I hate it when places underestimate. It's nicer to be pleasantly surprised by a shorter wait time. Anyway, the room was quite nice, and the service was friendly and convenient, and all in all, it was a fun time!

We had a ton of snow on Saturday night -- heavy, wet snow. as we had visited my mom in the afternoon, we ended up driving through a lot of it on our way home. The last 15 miles or so was pretty bad. In the morning, we discovered our birch tree completely bent to the ground. It looked like a weeping willow tree. one large branch actually broke and had to be sawed off. I hope the tree survives. A tree in our backyard also has a large branch broken off. It was a lovely tree with pink flowers in the Spring. Many, many trees were felled during this storm, and most people lost power. Also, trees were just starting to bud, so many of the buds fell off when the snow melted on Sunday. By Sunday afternoon, much of the snow was gone, but the damage was done.

My own children have school this week, so Kevin and I took them to school Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, I visited my son's class to help out with the Luau which was a culminating part of their Hawaii unit. I wasn't that much help, but it was a lot of fun! I loved seeing my child dance the hula!

Now I have the kind of free time I rarely ever have the chance to enjoy -- two days with about 6 hours of free time all to myself! Of course, I have cleaning and stuff to do, but I get to enjoy the peace. I love being with my family, but it nice to have alone time now and then. Just peace and quiet and no worries about who is doing what to whom, or who needs food, or why am I spending too much time on the computer when I should be with my family.

I'm going to get back to work now. I need to organize my little room so that I can work on my scrapbook projects that I was saving for this week.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ode to Joy

Spring is here! The leprechauns have visited again this year. They left chocolate coins under the boys' pillows.

St. Patty's day was quite eventful here. I had to rush home to get going to the Piano festival from our school district. Here is a pic of our lovely blue ribbon winner, after only 5 months of piano lessons.

Since we have had requests for more piano playing, here's a clip of most of Ode to Joy from the contest.

I should have had a tripod, but I didn't. Frankly, I just didn't think of it.

Last week, the boys and I were at a funeral for my dear cousin Debbie. She was such a beautiful soul, and is missed terribly. She now finds her joy with her Lord in heaven, after battling cancer for 14 years. She was only in her early 50's.

After the funeral, we had lunch in the church basement. When most people were done, we were all milling about and reconnecting with other relatives. Suddenly, I heard "Take me out to the Ball Game" being played on the piano. It seemed too cheerful, and too out of place. Of course, it was my son. Then my 5 year old nephew wanted to get in on the act. And while it was hard to hear, I felt the message "Life goes on". We are left here to mourn her loss, but we will see her again. And we will continue to try to bless many more lives, as Debbie blessed so many. I just wish I could see more of my cousins more often.

I had the lovely opportunity to drive part of the way with my cousin Heidi, and to return with her mother. Two very different people, yet loved and admired for their uniqueness. I'm so glad that Heidi and I feel like we can be ourselves with each other - for good or bad. And I got to see a new side of my auntie -- her singing! The boys especially enjoyed "We are the red men, feathers in the head men, pow wow!" it came complete with hand motions. We simply MUST get her to do this on camera and send it to us again!

My mother had 12 brothers and sisters. Most of them had children. She was 12th out of 13. I have a LOT of cousins. And 1st cousins once removed, twice removed, etc. Some of my 1st cousins have grandchildren already. I can only imagine because I've met most of them. Next summer, I'm going to redo my huge family tree chart. I made one in the year 2000, but I think an update every 10 years is good. It's rather like the census, I suppose. (Genealogists LOVE the census!) I'm glad my family and my extended family can be as close as we are. I am amazed at the problems other families have, and sad for them too. Our closeness seems so normal to me. It's only in my older years here that I realize how unusual it can seem to others.

Have a blessed rest of your day. Seek the joy around you.

Monday, March 2, 2009

It's Casimir Pulaski Day!

Today is Casimir Pulaski day. I have the day off of school. Tomorrow, ISAT testing begins in our school. I worry more about 2 students who are not doing so well than I do about testing as a whole.

My own children go to school today. I don't know why they don't get the day off too, except that our county is farther out from Chicago, home to many, many Polish people. And as we know, Casimir Pulaski is a Polish general who came to the US to help the cause of freedom in the Revolutionary War, and is known as the Father of the American Cavalry. He started the 1st American Cavalry unit, and was tragically mortally wounded in battle.

Anyhow, it's cool to know that people from all over the world helped in our little revolution.

Other mundane thoughts:

1. How do so many people find the time to keep up with their blogs? I'm here at once a month, and I think I'm doing well. I'm not a slow typist or anything. I just have too much to do.

2. Spring should be here soon!

3. A friend of mine is waiting to find out if she is pg after fertility treatments. I pray for patience for her, as well as success.

4. A child I know is faced with the situation that his father tried to kill his mother. How sad is that? So most of my prayers are directed toward this family lately. What a shock! Any prayers you might like to add would surely be a blessing for this family.

5. I have been trying to set up a Facebook account, but they do not like my first name. The name "Gay" is not an acceptable name on the internet, it seems. Why do people need to make such a hassle about this? I"ve been hassled over my name since I was in 4th grade. It gets old, people. When I went to Kindergarten, there were 2 kindergarten teachers. The other one (not my own teacher) had the first name of Gay also. So since Kindy, I have kind of mentally been keeping track of how many other people I have met or heard of with that same name. The number is over 110 now. So it's not unheard of.

6. I can't wait to see how my own son does on the ISAT test. I hope he does well, but if not, we'll work on it. He's a bright kid. I see all his work that comes home, so I have a good idea of where he's at. Having your own child puts many things into perspective.

7. I like what Barack Obama said the other day about parents being more involved in their child's education. It's so, so important. I see this so much at school.

8. I wish grading papers did not take so long.

9. It's nice to get these random thoughts out of your head, isn't it?

10. For some reason, my youngest says he does not like to read. He's an absolutely terrific reader. But now that he's able to read longer books, he doesn't care to. It seems he does not quite have the stamina, I guess. He reads a grade or two above his grade level, but it can be like pulling teeth sometimes to get him to read the minimum required. I guess he still really loves picture books. Perhaps we need to find harder picture books. There definitely are some out there!

There you have it: 10 things on my mind lately.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hope Springs Eternal - a musical review.

They say "Hope Springs Eternal".

For many of you, of course this means I am a Cubs fan.

Last week, I was down in the dumps about the whole thing. It is not a easy life that you choose when you decide to give your heart to the Cubs. One doesn't always know why, or when such a monumental decision was made. But like my father before me, I became a die-hard Cubs fan.

Last fall, I was trying so very hard not to hope that the Cubs would make it to the World Series, but somehow that hope snuck in there as they kept winning games. And I tried to remind myself that even though the White Sox and the Red Sox had broken these long, long streaks where they did not win a World Series, that did not necessarily mean that 100 years was long enough, and the Cubs should definitely win.

Of course, our hopes were dashed, even as we pretended not to hope too much, to protect our hearts.

Last week, I was wondering why on earth I put myself through this. Why was I getting excited that Spring training is starting? Why do I feel like summer is nearly here in February when the Cubs (and others) start training?

Then I visited the Cubs website just to peak, and I was hooked again for another year. I love Wrigley Field. I love watching the Cubs play. I haven't been there nearly enough in my life, but I love it. Most of my students love the Cubs, and they keep me informed about all the games. Some of them get to go to a lot of games and have super-duper seats. I have a Cubs bat and a New Orleans-style Cubs necklace that students have given me over the years. As we have had a few warmer days this winter, students are wearing Cubs shirts again.

I was remembering the other day how my dad used to tune in the games at night on his little transister radio (when they were playing away games, of course) back when we lived in North Dakota, and could rarely see them on TV. This was in the 1970' and 80's. We only had 2 tv channels at the time, and the chances of seeing them were quite rare. When we moved back to IL, and I started my journey toward becoming a fan, I wondered how he endured living so far from the Cubs for so many years (at least 7 - 8). As an adult, I understand a little better, but I know he was happy to see them again when were returned to IL.

I am sure that my father and Kevin's father are excited about the chance to peek down from heaven again to watch Spring Training. And I know in my heart that my eldest only claims to be a White Sox fan because he knows it will annoy his father and me. My youngest is on his way to being a die-hard fan, which means, of course, he will have a special section in heaven for those who know about faith and hope in something that you may not see.

Enjoy this little clip of the boys, and their tribute to baseball:

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Summer versus Winter - you decide!

I decided to post a warm weather video to help chase away the winter blues.
It's actually warmer out today - a high near 32 degrees!


Saturday, January 24, 2009

I'm rejoining the technology revolution

Here we are, on the web in blog form. As this is easier than I thought, you will see more of us soon.