Friday, May 30, 2014

Theory 44: College at age 40 sucks compared to college at age 20.

How many of you college graduates have one of these recurring dreams?

1. You've been in school all semester, and it's now time to take the big final exam (one of maybe four grades in the class), and you can't find the testing location? I swear on the Smoky Mountains, I failed an Accounting 202 test because I took it in a gigantic theater-seated room in the Jessie Harris Building (I think). I was a finance major and that was a science building. No joke, I credit my awful experience to the intimidating table of elements that stretched wall-to-wall at the bottom front of the depressing room. I am terrible at science (no memory). Actually, I'm not even sure that it was the Jessie Harris Building. Whatever. I just know that taking the test in an unfamiliar location with two hundred other coeds under the, ugh, letter-number-combos representing matters and gasses mattered to me. I scored an F2O.

2. The other college nightmare that I often have is that I get notice of a test, say in December or May, and realize that I've never actually attended the course. It's too late to withdraw. It's too late to learn. It's even too late to crouch behind the sectional sofa in the athletic dorm and copy down answers from the "tutors" as they help Division I athletes master complex economic theories.


Well, as I explained last week in Theory 43: Working mothers can only do so much, I am living the college dream, or some would say, nightmare. Back in 1992, I went to college to become a business woman, but also to become educated. I think of education as light. Knowing things, learning things, mastering and exploring concepts, literature, procedures, ideas, opinions, research, etc. illuminates the world around us. I often ask my students, "When you find a song, read a book, or see a movie that you just love, don't you start to notice references to that song, book, or movie everywhere?" Delicious says that people who read poetry enjoy sunsets more than people who don't read poetry. I remember when Ronald Reagan announced his strategic defense initiative and said to military personnel, "May the force be with you." Even as a very young child, I knew exactly what he meant, because I was "educated" (culturally, anyway) through Star Wars. If I'd never seen Star Wars, I would have missed the meaning and magnitude and scope of that phrase.

~ ~ ~ Goob alert!!! I'm about to quote from a book I'm reading in my M. Ed. coursework.~ ~ ~

Okay, so I'm reading an actually enjoyable book. In the late 1940's Jesse Stuart wrote The Thread That Runs So True. The book is Stuart's account of his days as a mountain school teacher in rural Kentucky. He makes the following speech to barefoot, poverty-ridden students at Mountain View School:

I told [students]...that education was not a commodity to be bought and sold but something that gave one more realization and enjoyment of the many things that life held in store. That wiht more education, the mysteries and the beauties of life would unfold before them like the buds of leaf and flower in the spring. I told them they would even see more beauty in their natural surroundings than they now saw.

Amen, Jesse Stuart! All this is to say that I place extremely high value on education. Education is the one thing that, once you have it, no one can take it away. It is liberating. I love to learn. I love college-level coursework. I love teaching and teachers. But, I am struggling right now, because College at age 40 sucks compared to college at age 20. Let's compare the two, using Abraham Maslow's Hierachy of Needs theory, shall we?  I think it’s best to start from the basic needs, at the bottom, and work our way up. Here we go:

Maslow’s Defined Need
Bug age 18-21 (1992-1995)
Bug age 40 (2014)

Physiological Needs
Air
Had just outgrown childhood asthma and could climb the 2.5 million steps on UT’s campus with toned marching band legs.
Can’t breathe walking uphill from the mailbox. Have to drive everywhere.
Food
Meal plan. Took cherry tomatoes from the salad bar to my secret dorm pet guinea pig, Sam. Stole a pineapple from the Presidential Courtyard Cafeteria and soaked it with vodka. Good times.
Well, first I work all week. Then, on Sundays, I go Krogering and load up a heavy cart with apple juice, bacon, milk, loaf break, bananas, dog food. Then I bring it all home and unload it. Then I cook it. Then I slop the Hog, Gnome, and Sharky. Then I store leftovers. Then I wash the dishes. Then I put the clean dishes away. Some cycle.
Water
Drank it like crazy.
Try to make myself drink it to lose weight.
Shelter
One room in Humes Hall to clean. Four girls shared a bathroom. Good times.
I provide it, fix it, clean it, curse it, love it, and pray it doesn’t burn down. Oh, and kill mice who attack it. Two this week!
Clothing
Not so good back then.
Not much better now. (Teacher fashion.)
Sleep
Got it.
Ha!

Safety and Security Needs
Health
34-24-34
My school system forces us to weigh in quarterly for a $50 per month insurance discount. My BMI? TMI!
Employment
Dream job: school teacher
Property
Clarinet, comforter set, lots of costume jewelry, micro fridge, mechanical pencils before they were cool
Though signs of the recession abound in our Glen Cove abode, I love my home and hope I can hang on to it. The Master’s Degree should help.
Family
Delicious and Pooh
Delicious, Tall Child, Sharky, Gnome (long, sweet story), Buzz (dog from Helk).
Stability
Had it. Lost it when I lost Pooh (1993). Regained it partially.
I can’t afford prescriptions for that. Just do the best I can with prayer, yard work, and Bota Box.

Love and Belongingness Needs
Friendship
Three girls from Gatlinburg. GT, TRO, and Mare. Funny stuff can happen, even when you spend most of your time in your Humes Hall dorm room.
I love people. Tall ones, fat ones, skinny ones, drunk ones, smart ones, dumb ones, and especially creative ones. Shout out to my sisters, from sports and religion and everything in between. I love you!
Intimacy
No way! I was a good little girl. But I did go to band camp. Just sayin’.
Tall Child wouldn’t want me to share such details. He’s too modest.
Connections
No cell phone, no internet, no computer, no social media.
Cell phone (got a smart one just last summer!), internet (most of the time), social media (a blessing to all only children), lots of online communities. I love this part of this century!

Self-Esteem Needs
Confidence
Had it.
Have it. (Thanks to Delicious.)
Achievement
Good grades, except for engineering calculus. No hillbilly should ever have a German teacher.
B.S., lots of jobs, Post-Bacc, published author,
and am able to gain and lose the same 2 pounds every week. Good stuff.
Respect of Others
Very protective of my self-esteem and reputation.
Want it, but don’t worry about it. Forty is the perfect age. Ahhh, liberating!
Individuality
I did wear lots of white t-shirts and khaki shorts so the band director didn’t notice me.
Looking for a unique personal uniform. Ideas?

Self-Actualisation (British site=funky spelling)
Morality
Good girl, good daughter, good girlfriend, good student, good friend.
Same. Add wife and mother. At least I try to be. I don’t steal pineapples anymore.
Creativity
Snuck in a non-required writing course at UT.
Write without fear now.
Spontaneity
Not so much. Couldn’t afford it.
I will hit El Charro at the drop of a hat. Just text me. I also like to inject humor at will in unlikely/sometimes inappropriate situations.
Acceptance
You were OK. I was OK.
I love weirdness and even like my own weirdness.
Purpose
To help Delicious.
To take care of my family and encourage or entertain others through meaningful work (teaching and writing).
Meaning
I meant business.
I mean to have a good time.
Inner Potential
Ambitious, practical.
I really think I have a fiction novel in me. Time will tell. Maybe when I finish my Ed. S. degree. Ha!

That's all I've got folks. It's 8:44 a.m. and I have to take Gnome for his 4-year checkup. We sealed Sharky's teeth yesterday. I have class tomorrow (Saturday) from 7:45 to 3:00. Will you pray that I stay awake? I'm pretty sure I have ADHD. Hmmm, maybe a good topic for Theory 45. My, how times have changed.

Bug circa 1992

Bug circa this morning

Readers who have gone back to school as adults or are going through the helk of it now, PLEASE email/Facebook/comment my way. I want to know: For you, what is the biggest difference in being a college student "then" and "later/now"? THANKS!

See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn!

Also, visit Amazon.com or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website: www.jodydyer.com


Let's talk! Find me and friend me and please post any time.


Facebook: Theories: Size 12 (See each post, comment, share, and talk directly with others readers and me!) I'd LOVE to hear your theories!


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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Theory 43: A working mother can only do so much.

It's Thursday, my last full day of classes with students, and I am looking ahead toward summer. Specifically, I'm looking at three syllabi for my Master's in Curriculum and Instruction (education) coursework. I complete those nine hours through accelerated, Saturday (all dang day) and Wednesday (just four hours) classes from now to the end of July. Then, yay me, I do another round of six accelerated hours (no tailgating for this Bug) to earn the gift of a Master's Degree. I think I'll wrap my certificate in its necessarily evil FAFSA student loan documents and put a red bow on top! Then toast myself with some Andre and cranberry juice.

In January or August, I'll start the coursework for my Educational Specialist degree. That's just 33 more hours, ya'll.

In addition to going back to college at the ripe old age of 40 and pretty much wrecking every moment of free time this summer, fall, and next year plus some (I graduate from all the above in August 2016), I'm revising Theories: Size 12 to publish it as a book or set of smaller books, to meet readers' demands for such. Thank you, by the way, for your kind support and awesome contributions through all my Theories!

Oh top of all THAT, that, and THAT, I'm working on a comprehensive student-based project that could take off or fall flat. Who knows?

Oh, and did I mention my job is changing? My colleague, Red Hot Backspace, and I are re-writing our curriculum and are charged with being technology specialists advisory people. Something like that. I REALLY need a laptop.

Geez. I'm exhausted just reading back through that academic to-do list. Aren't you?

Tired Bug in the middle of the EOC test materials room.

Not complaining, just explaining.

I related my giant to-do list to Agape Agave on the phone and she said, "Bug, good lord, don't you think you are spreading yourself just a little too thin?" I like that she called me thin, but I didn't like that she was right. I "reflected" (that's what teachers seeking advanced degrees do; they "reflect") for a few days, talked to Tall Child and Sharky, and everyone agreed I had to make some changes.

I can only do so much.

I LOVE writing these Theories, but I have to focus on the work that puts biscuits in the jar. Translation for my northern friends: "earns money"

I want to stay married to Tall Child and loved by Sharky and Gnome, which means I can't stay in my little den, locked behind my desktop computer, shooting evil blue-eyed darts at anyone age four to fifty-one who rounds the corner.

I can only do so much.

Like all working mothers, I have to put my personal fun at the bottom of the priority list.

I can only do so much.

Long blah, blah, blah, story short, I'm changing my process for Theories: Size 12 for a little while. I want you to keep checking in, and, actually, help me. This is the plan: Instead of me writing a diatribe for each Theory from my perspective, I will toss out a Theory each Friday and query the field (you) for commentary, content, and collaboration.

I want to know YOUR perspective on these Theories!

Won't that be fun? You can respond to the weekly Theory with a story, an idea, an argument, an "amen" or even a picture. You can write one word, one sentence, a paragraph, or whatever floats your opinion boat. We'll just be talking. No big deal. Your offerings will give me insight and content ideas and, by talking with you, I won't go insane as I type up countless abstracts on philosophies of education and read all those terrible research-based textbooks with too many parentheses and numbers in every awful sentence. Ugh. I may wear a toga to class. I have the body for it.

Perhaps, once I'm all educated and such, I can scratch out another round of fodder in the way of lengthy, entertaining Theories: Size 12 posts that incorporate your wisdom and wit. What do you say?

In that vein, here we go. Today's Theory is ........
Theory 43: A working mother can only do so much.

Answer any/all of these questions, if you're so inclined:

1. What does your working mother meltdown look like?
2. What can father's do to help you avoid burnout?
3. How do you cope with stress?
4. Who suffers the most when mama is worn slap out?
5. Do you think women work harder than men at home, at work? How so?
6. Share a good story of "throwing in the towel", "throwing up of hands", or "walking flat out of a situation you just couldn't handle any more."
7. What did I miss?


Okay, readers, it's your turn to fuel the online fodder. You can email me at jdyer415@yahoo.com, Facebook message me at Jody Cantrell Dyer or Theories: Size 12, or put a message in a bottle in Lake Loudon. Either way, I appreciate every sentence you draft.

Thanks again for allowing me to make some changes in order to basically survive (mentally, anyway). I can't afford Zoloft, Xanex, Klonopins until I finish the Ed. S. so I have to rely on Bota Box and your generous verbal offerings.

Meanwhile, I love you!

Bug

By the way, I tossed a couple of items onto Kindle this month: Field Day (sweet, short, short and sweet, story) and Parents, Stop and Think (a collection of reflective letters from the perspective of a mother and teacher). Enjoy!

Just click on the covers to see more info:


http://www.amazon.com/Field-Day-Jody-Dyer-ebook/dp/B00KCUUVBQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400774463&sr=8-1&keywords=field+day+jody+dyer




http://www.amazon.com/Parents-Stop-Think-Reflective-Teacher-ebook/dp/B00KGGQ05W/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1400774529&sr=1-1

For all you teachers out there, H.A.G.S. No, you aren't hags! I meant Have A Great Summer! I think I'll wrap myself in a sheet, drain a Bota Box and write a first class abstract on Realism.

See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn!

Also, visit Amazon.com or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website: www.jodydyer.com
Let's talk! Find me and friend me and please post any time.

Facebook: Theories: Size 12 (See each post, comment, share, and talk directly with others readers and me!) I'd LOVE to hear your theories!

Facebook: Jody Cantrell Dyer
Facebook: The Eye of Adoption
GoodReads.com: Friend me! Let's talk books.
Google+: The Eye of Adoption
Google+: Theories: Size 12
Twitter: @jodycdyer
Author website: www.jodydyer.com
Buy The Eye of Adoption here: Amazon.com









Friday, May 16, 2014

Theory 42: Modern education has ruined field day.

I don’t know about you, but when nature flips the switch on winter, I feel energized! My feet don’t freeze on hardwood. Big Red waits, warm and ready. My shrubs and flowers exit a blank, drab dormancy and bloom into the ever-changing Technicolor society of my yard. Wild Trillium, neon moss, and porch lizards surprise me. Spring also brings nostalgic anxiety. When I get a whiff of wet grass cuttings, my stomach does a somersault and I have to talk myself down from athletic dread.

Field Day.

Remember two things. One: I come from a family of athletes. Two: I played sports, even though I sucked at them. Athletic ventures always, always, ALWAYS, put me in a nerve-wracking, self-conscious, embarrassing position (physically and socially). Now at the perfect age of forty, I don’t care much what others think, but as a child, Field Day was tough on me.

I wrote a short story about Field Day for a creative writing class at The University of Tennessee. Even though I was long free of Delicious-pressure to beef up my transcripts with athletic participation and was, by then, happily brainwashed as a Pride of the Southland Band clarinet partier, I mean, player, I never shook the scars of my Field Day days at Pigeon Forge Elementary School. I revamped the story this week and published it on Kindle. I'd love for you to buy it (99 cents) - maybe for your children if not for you. I placed a link at the end of the blog post.
http://www.amazon.com/Field-Day-Jody-Dyer-ebook
I attended elementary school during the Reagan administration, when physical fitness was the buzz. And the boys wore buzzes. My cousins’ names decorated the Presidential Fitness Award bulletin board outside our principal’s office. President Reagan apparently loved Pigeon Forge Elementary School. I thought we must have been the sit-up, push-up, pull-up studs of Sevier County. Or maybe he gave us lots of awards because he won our mock election with 99% of the vote. Anyway, while my cousins Roscoe, Nan, and G.T. anticipated 50-yard dashing their way to micro-local fame, I personally dreaded the entire experience. Even though I anticipated last place notariety, I admired athletic prowess and was, as an observer and commentator of human nature even then, fascinated by the concept and excellent delivery of Field Day at PFES.

Well done, coaches and teachers, well done.

Kids these days would literally pass out by boxed lunch time if they tried Field Day the old way. For those of you who grew up in, perhaps, softer social settings, let me describe a good old Southern elementary school field day.

First, the events stretched throughout an entire school day. School was out. Good times were in. As Delicious once said, “We [local] educators try not to let academics interfere with our fun.”

Events were as follow (from what I can remember):

50 yard dash
100 yard dash
400 yard relay
mile run
long jump
standing broad jump
sack race
shoe kick
shoe race
potato race
water balloon toss
three-legged race
tug-of-war
crab walk (that one broke G.T.’s arm)
bear crawl
football throw


The schedule was something like this: Teachers organized students a few days before Field Day. Students signed up for the contests they wanted to enter. On Field Day, teachers escorted students out of their classrooms, down the hallways, and through the lunchroom. In the lunchroom, we picked up uniform lunches that clogged an unusually cool serving line. White bags contained turkey and cheese sandwiches, milk, apples, potato chips, and oatmeal or shortbread cookies. Students carried the lunch bags and blankets and beach towels they’d brought from home. We spread out, organized by homeroom class, on the grass surrounding the football field. Ours was a giant, Appalachian quilt dotted with Strawberry Shortcake, Barbie, Superhero, and Scooby-Doo, framing the arena: the Pigeon Forge Tiger Football Field.

On the 50 yard line, the principal, PE coach, and judges sat at a heavy wood table, likely borrowed from the library. Boxes of ribbons waited, heavy with promise: blue for first place, red for second, white for third. The ribbons came with numeric value and bragging rights; when a student placed, a judge pinned the appropriate ribbon to the front of the child's shirt. Roscoe could fly. By 3:00 p.m. he was a one-boy parade. 

Everyone in the school participated—students, faculty, staff, administration—everyone. Except parents. Field Day was a time of fun and bonding between teachers and students. Parents would be in the way.

Field Day was extremely competitive. There was an overall class winner, as in Mrs. Big Booty J’s 4th grade homeroom. The class winner got to keep a huge trophy for the entire next school year. There was a female winner and a male winner from each grade. And, to make sure everyone knew who was the absolutely fastest, most athletic, toughest competitor in K-8, the judges determined (by ribbon count) two supreme winners:

Mister and Miss Tiger.

Teachers coached and motivated us to WIN. Winning was the goal. Oh, no, you didn’t say that, Bug! Oh, yes, I did. Winning was awesome. Losing sucked. Even though I was a total goob, I absolutely wanted my class to win. I daydreamed of watching girls I didn’t like cry tears of defeat into their Care Bear blankets. We were innocent, but we were fierce. And, we were physical. No one was fat. Well, some teachers were, but that was it. And that’s normal. Even somewhat chunky students—girls like me with round bellies and prematurely full training bras—could play outside for hours in those days.  

Soaked in sweat and tap water from burst balloons, our bony shins wore a fur of damp grass clippings. It was heaven for athletes. Though awkward and nerve-wracking for band nerds with bad coordination and slow-twitch muscle fibers, it was still a social, bonding, exciting, book-free, fantastic way to round out a school year with friends. We traded friendship pins and stickers and talked Cabbage Patch Dolls.

Tall Child brought it home back in his day.


Alas, Field Day has morphed, along with society, to a weaker, politically correct, overall disappointing experience.

The 1980’s Bug would have loved modern field day as a participant, but hated it on a philosophical level.  Confused by my love/hate relationship with Field Day? Think of it this way. I admire success, even when I can’t reach it personally. I admire beautiful women, even though I am not beautiful and may actually turn into a man, hair by hair. I just think it’s cool as helk when anyone does anything to perfection. (You know you tube-sock slide down your hallway after watching ice skaters soar in the Winter Olympics.)

Maybe fast-twitch muscle fibers skip a generation. Though I trip in my own living room, can’t bowl, bat, catch, dribble, or even swim in a straight line (chlorine burns and goggles pinch), I produced a remarkable athlete in Sharky. Finally, I am a sports winner! Admit it; we parents live and breathe through our children’s successes and take on specific, strong personalities when our boys and girls show their stuff (or when we know they have the stuff but won’t show it). Frustrating, right? Why do coaches make future Major League-rs bunt? It’s just wrong, right parents? If you’re wondering which parent you are, check Theory 8: In youth sports, parents are the true performers.

So, a few years ago, my field day, ahem, I mean Sharky’s field day in the sun finally came! Or so I thought.

You see, Sharky attends a top notch school. He learns in the shadows of a school chock-full of smart students under the guidance of superb, tireless, loving teachers. Let’s call it “Utopia Elementary” (UE). The sweet, quaint, old building is perched a trolley ride’s distance from The University of Tennessee and smack in the middle of a wealthy neighborhood (not our neighborhood, thus Big Red), so children of professional academia, surgeons, government officials, and downtown ambition abound at UE. At first grade parent orientation, the principal informed us that 92% of UE students’ parents hold bachelor’s degrees and 45% hold master’s degrees or higher. Wow. I looked at Tall Child and said, “We are running in a fast heat.”

Well, Sharky struggled to learn to read. His Kindergarten teacher, let’s call her “Veteran”, tossed him into “The Reading Club” with a few other boys. Nearing retirement, Veteran rewarded the Reading Club’s after school work with contra-ban cookies (oh, no, don’t tell Michelle Obama!) and their favorite pastime, reenacting The Battle of the Alamo on the playground. Sharky/Davy Crockett led The Reading Club against Santa Anna every afternoon. Veteran used play to motivate the reading club. And, guess what? They are all literate. Sharky loved recess, gym class, basketball, baseball, flag football, and basement ping-pong. He had mad skills, too, so, after a year-long struggle and true worry about my baby’s advancement to first grade, I felt a surge of advanced pride in show-off opportunity when I opened his Monday folder to find a flyer reading,

Dear Parents,

Utopian Elementary will host Field Day for all grades on May 14. Please send your child to school in athletic clothing and tennis shoes….

Oh, yeah, baby. It was finally time for my baby to do his thang!

The letter requested parent volunteers, which surprised me. I thought, “Great! I get to see Sharky’s stud moment of success this school year!”

He had competition. There were several great athletes at UE.  But one would never know. Modern education stomped good old “show your stuff” Field Day into the turf.

I found out the hard way.

I won’t bore you with the ugly, disappointing details. I’ll just tell you this. I have no doubt in my mind that Sharky could throw a football or baseball longer than almost every boy in his grade. But when I arrived at Field Day, I saw him bouncing on a giant exercise ball with his FEMALE classmate, who was his “Field Day Partner,” and singing with her, “The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round.”  Really?

I wanted to hear a track pistol or whistle or “Eye of the Tiger.”

What. Was. Happening?

I later found out he was doing yoga in P.E. class. Really? 

Sharky’s competition for the whole Field Day was one girl. A GIRL! That’s it. To top it off, they were unevenly matched. She had at least twenty pounds on him.

They rotated through stations and got, ugh, participation prizes. Prizes? How about ribbons? So much plastic, but no glory. I was the only person on the playground who was sweating.

I love Sharky’s school, but there are many types of human intelligence, and not everyone plays chess or clarinet or wants to go to robotics camp. At the end of the year, when the principal sent out a parent survey, I commented on field day and remarked that kinesthetic learners were disenfranchised (a politically correct term I thought may get some real attention, especially in a school were yoga was in the PE curriculum). I hear they've made improvements, but I wouldn’t know. I've boycotted field day ever since I saw Houston bouncing and singing "Wheels on the bus." It's too hard. Plus, I have to help at my own school.

Now, my school does field day RIGHT! Of course, our football team has won the national championship so we know what's important. No joke. Academically, we are also one of the top schools in the state. Tennessee, but still. That dog'll hunt, ya'll!
This week, 9th graders had a blast in the hot May sunshine. They sprinted, tossed, bear-crawled, jumped, and tugged with sweat-soaked delight. We even had a gross eating contest and they cheered each other on, praying someone puked. It was awesome!

I learned more about my students in one afternoon of Field Day than I could in a month of coursework. Take a look. Good times. Good All-American times.





I discussed this post with my students, when one remarked, "I hid Mrs. Bug. I didn't go to Field Day and nobody figured it out!" I asked her how on Earth she pulled off this feat, and she explained, "Well, when the Ninth Grade Awards Ceremony was over, our teacher said to go to the restroom then meet on the track for Field Day. I hid in the bathroom til everyone was gone. Then, I waited for the principal to announce EIGHTH Grade AWards Day. When I heard the eighth graders walking by the bathroom, I jumped in line."
I was shocked that one of my freshmen angels would be sneaky! "I can't believe you actually wanted to sit through eighth grade awards. That had to be so boring" I said.
She answered, "Well, it was boring until the girl sitting right beside me won an award! I freaked out! I just looked straight down at the floor and prayed that no one would recognize me."
There are benefits to going to a big school, ya'll.
 ~ ~ ~

In honor of Field Day across America and eager and not-so-eager participants, I hope you'll download and enjoy my short story, Field Day. Here is the link.


If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the free Kindle reader application and read books on your phone, computer, or tablet. Go technology!


Enjoy!

See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn.

~ ~ ~

Also, visit Amazon.com or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website: www.jodydyer.com


Let's talk! Find me and friend me and please post any time.


Facebook: Theories: Size 12 (See each post, comment, share, and talk directly with others readers and me!) I'd LOVE to hear your theories!


Facebook: Jody Cantrell Dyer
Facebook: The Eye of Adoption
GoodReads.com: Friend me! Let's talk books.
Google+: The Eye of Adoption
Google+: Theories: Size 12
Twitter: @jodycdyer
Author website: www.jodydyer.com
Buy The Eye of Adoption here: Amazon.com

Friday, May 9, 2014

Theory 41: God Winks Us Through

Thank goodness it is Friday, friends. I'm not gonna lie; this week has been rough—not tragic, just rough. I'm wrapping up state mandated end of course testing today, which culminates a school-year- long project so logistically complicated that I wouldn't dare bore you with its details. Plus, it's 5:49 a.m. and I've been up since 4:00 a.m. checking on Sharky. He's, um, under the weather, so to speak. Well, let's just say there have been storms in the south for three straight days. Three days. Hey, that's the same number of days as EOC testing. You know how when it rains, it pours, don't you working mothers? Unfortunately, I'm out of sick days so Delicious had to take her colorful show on the road to Knoxville to baby my baby Shark. Bonus: She/they completed his history project poster. Need info on Indiana? Dial up Sharky and Delicious. They are practically Hoosiers now! The project would look even better if she'd printed the pictures in color. She called me at school to find out how to print. I teach technology, but I have to say that she was a tough pupil. Talking Delicious through a printing job was like talking a "senior" civilian through landing a Navy fighter jet on an aircraft carrier. Delicious is not a fan of technology. She likes to say, "Those computers are too much work and cause too many problems." Bop isn't much better. At Christmas, she said, "Well, technology has just gotten way out of hand these days." The Indiana print job may have been the most challenging moment of my teaching career. Where were those hunky soldiers with light sticks when I needed them?  Delicious snapped, "Bug, I don't know what is going on with your printer. Papers just keep shootin' out and they don't have anything of the stuff I typed about Indiana on them." After some loud instructions, accusatory remarks, self-touting, and whining from both ends of the phone, we gave up. As Maverick might say, we "crashed and burned." My solution? I instructed Delicious to turn off the printer and close the door. To the entire room. When I got home, I turned on the printer. Yep. Sheets of standard paper slowly trembled out of my aged Teacher Supply Depot printer. Some were blank, some had code on them. Code. Some had funky symbols. Delicious types in Wicken, apparently.  Even though she couldn't figure out the printer, Delicious was a Godsend. She took wonderful, personal care of Sharky and even helped him buy me a hanging basket of Fuschia for Mother's Day. She is straight from Heaven. In the midst of turmoil and anxiety, it's important for us to stop and be thankful. Like last week, I am posting an article I wrote a while back that I think you'll enjoy. I originally penned this for a British website, but the editor thought it too spiritual ("not secular enough") for his audience. My bad. I then asked a group of adoption bloggers where I should send it. One suggested I offer it to Jen Hatmaker. No response. She must be too busy for a hillbilly like me. That's okay, because that blogger and I became wonderful friends! Her name is Debbie Michael. She's an adoptive mother, author, and artist in Maryland. Just yesterday, another adoption writer and new friend, Gayle Swift, remarked about how neat it is to see God's work through connecting people. God's timing does fascinate me. I try really hard to seek, "see," and understand. Sometimes He is indirect. Sometimes He is obvious. Most importantly, He is always here

I love to watch for coincidences through nature, people, timing, and numbers. No, I'm not a number worshiper like that genius loon Pythagoras, but most adoptive parents will tell you to take note of dates in the Wait. And signs are everywhere! Last June, I was having a particularly sad personal time. Some people really close to me were really cruel to me. Sharky, Gnome, my niece Balloon Girl, and I were tromping through The Crippled Beagle Farm toward the Naked Lady Farm. I was in an emotional trench, totally self-absorbed with hurt, frustration, confusion (and a bruised only child ego) and said a quick prayer asking God for relief. A few minutes later, we needed to cross Kellum Creek. I stepped to the muddy edge of the creek bank, looked down, and saw this:


"Like a bridge over troubled water"

I stopped the children and showed them the cross. Tiny batches of tiny minnows darted underneath the precious, much needed symbol. Sharky wanted to pick it up to "show Grandmama." We felt so privileged to see something so special.

I've seen lots of special things. So have you. I post this article today because this Saturday is Birthmother's Day. Sunday is Mother's Day. Tall Child and Sharky turn 51 and 4 on Tuesday. And so much more. 

I wrote this article in March of last year. Enjoy!


~ ~ ~


God Winks Us Through

Suffering gives us enlightened perspective.  Struggles clarify our priorities and vision. Adoptive parents have a burdensome, yet privileged view of family. As we wait for our children, we grow—in patience, compassion, and faith. We see things. Some call them coincidences. Some call them signs. My friend Paige calls them “God Winks.”

Consider these definitions for “wink” from www.dictionary.com:
Wink (verb)
2. to close and open one eye quickly as a hint or signal or with some sly meaning
4. to shine with little flashes of light; twinkle

I gave birth to my son Houston in 2002. Adding a second child to my family was the greatest challenge of my life. My family endured emotional, financial, physical, and marital stress with fertility treatments, then with the adoption journey for eight years. Finally, in 2010, we welcomed our son Scotty.  Along the journey, I took note, and I took notes. Inspired by the entire experience, I felt compelled to help others. I wrote a contemporary memoir titled The Eye of Adoption: the true story of my turbulent wait for a baby, to encourage waiting and adoptive families. In the book, I document the pain, the expense, the lessons, the humor, and, most importantly, the “Winks” I saw in our journey to Scotty.

I hope the following list of Winks (the first three are listed as quotes from my book) help you open your eyes to the miracles in your journey to a child:

·        For Mother’s Day, Houston made me a card. Without having been prompted by his teacher, he drew and colored three stick figures in descending height: blue for Jeff, pink for me, and gray for Houston. He added a little round face with yellow hair floating above the three of us.

Even Houston sensed the ethereal nature of the wait for our baby.

We were approved for adoption one week later.

·        On July 4th, I was feeling sorry for myself, and I asked, “God, am I EVER going to get this baby? I am so tired.” I heard, “She is on her way.”

Kerri, Scotty’s birthmother, became pregnant in August.

·        She called the baby London, explaining that she felt weird calling him “the baby” since he was in her body and she cared about him, so, as a devoted Anglophile, she named him after her favorite city. When I told her that Jeff’s brother lives in London, England, she was [thrilled].

What are the odds that my child’s birthmother would name her son after a city thousands of miles from Knoxville, TN, and that my brother-in-law, who grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, would live there?

·        We now navigate an open adoption with Kerri. In the beginning, the meetings were extremely difficult and emotional for me. When Scotty was only a few weeks old, Kerri asked if we could visit her grandparents. They live in a different part of town and were strangers to me. I chose to “err on the side of kindness” and agreed. I was a nervous wreck when I carried an infant Scotty into a cigarette smoke-filled living room to meet his birth grandparents. The grandmother suffered a debilitating stroke years ago and sat disabled and confused, in a recliner. Kerri was ecstatic to show off Scotty and began snapping photos like crazy. I silently prayed, “God, please give me a sign that this is okay.” At that moment, the grandfather said, “Wait a minute, Kerri. I need to brush Granny’s hair.” He left the room, returned with a brush, and gently and lovingly prepared Gail for a photo. I was touched. I was relieved. This stranger, now a relative, was a good man. I thanked God for the Wink.

·        When Jeff and I were waiting for a baby, an adoptive mother told us, “Pay attention to dates.” She was right. Our wedding anniversary is the same day as Scotty’s biological father’s birthday. My father and Kerri’s father share the same birthday, June 16, which is Father’s Day in the USA this year. And, amazingly, Scotty was born May 13, Jeff’s birthday!

·        God is still winking me through this adoption journey. I recently met Kerri for lunch to give her the first signed copy of The Eye of Adoption. She opened the book, turned to the dedication page, and read aloud, “For Kerri, my soul sister.” Then, she looked me in the eyes, pointed upward, and gasped, “Jody, listen!” The restaurant radio was playing the Train song, “Hey, Soul Sister.” We both cried and laughed and marveled at the Wink.

Adoptive parents lumber, confused and hurt, through shadowy tunnels built of expense, appointments, questions, frustration, paperwork, and unknown duration. But, there is light at the end of the adoption tunnel! Adoption is grief in reverse. Adoptive parents who have survived the trek, your parental vision is brighter and clearer because of your experience. Waiting parents, take note and take notes.  Look for flashes of hope through coincidence, odd timing, and unique revelations. Open your eyes to the sensational adventure of adoption. God is reversing your grief, one small miracle at a time. See. Believe. God will Wink you through!


~ ~ ~


A few weeks ago, Tall Child and I spent our anniversary weekend (which, as I said in the article, is Scotty's birthfather's birthday) in Hot Springs, North Carolina. While Tall Child napped, I took a book and a cup of wine to the moss-covered bank of Spring Creek, just behind our little rental cottage. In his sweet novel Maiden Harvest, my friend and fellow author Don Pardue, succinctly illustrates character "Boots'" shocking news of her unwed pregnancy. I thought about Bryant. I thought about Kerri. I took a short walk along the creek and stumbled across a petite blue God Wink in this tiny spray of flowers.

A bright blue wink on the banks of Spring Creek, Hot Springs, NC


You see, these are Forget-Me-Nots. . Im October of 2009, I planted a packet of these seeds for the first time because I'd seen them in Gatlinburg and loved the bright blue hue. Tall Child and I met Kerri in January, 2010. The seeds sprouted and bloomed in spring of 2010, just before Scotty was born. Forget-Me-Nots are Kerri's favorite flowers; she has a wreath of them tattoed around her left wrist. For Birthmother's Day and Mother's Day and Gnome's birthday, we'll get together tomorrow at Kerri's grandfather's house. I framed two 8x10 photos of the Hot Springs Forget-Me-Nots—one for Kerri, one for Gnome.

While the topic of the article and much of this blog is obviously adoption, God Winks us through all situations. We simply need to see and believe. Actually, we need to believe, then we'll see. I apologize if I haven't made you laugh today, but I do hope I've made you think. And, I hope you know how much I appreciate my readers! 

Note from editor/publisher/creator/writer (ME, Bug): I am about to start editing Theories: Size 12 to create a collection of humorist essays in the form of one or two small books. I also start my master's degree in curriculum and instruction May 17. I'm putting together an anthology project for students, and re-writing my curriculum for the next school year, which actually starts in mid-July. Thus, you may see briefer posts and a few changes. Unless I find a sister-wife. Still looking. Heck, I don't even know what Theory I'll post next week. It's now 6:58 and I don't have on a stitch of make-up and need to be in Big Red cruising toward school in 15 minutes. So, check back next week for Theory 42. 

Until then, think (and look) outside the barn!

Also, visit Amazon.com or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website: www.jodydyer.com

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