Saturday, August 3, 2013

End of the blogging chapter

It's time to say goodbye to blogging.  It turns out that I don't need a space to write out my thoughts.  Ever since Dad died, I find myself talking about my thoughts with the loved ones in my life and there is little need to write them out.  This was an awesome place for me in the time that I needed it.  I simply don't need it any longer.

I will continue to write on Alexander's blog, as infrequent as that may be.  The reality is Instagram (munsonm) and Facebook are my chosen form of social media and blogging is falling by the wayside. 

Thank you to those who followed or checked in on my little online journal over the past few years.  The blog was an outlet during a time when I was less than happy in a job that didn't fit me, when I struggled to deal with a dying parent, and felt a lot of pressure to be the support for so many people.  It turns out in the past 8 months, I have learned to let others (most importantly, my husband) take care of me and let go of so many unrealistic expectations and standards.  I have learned to let the love of friends and family flood over me and I'm ok with my own weakness as I grieve, discover life in my 40's, and transition to this next chapter in my life. 

While one of Dad's favorite sayings was "Never Had a Better Day", I don't know that I can agree with the sentiment any longer.  Each day brings its own challenges.  Each day brings its own joy and laughter.  Each day brings a degree of sorrow.  I'm learning to take each experience as it comes.  I'm learning to walk through it, process it, and determine how to weave it into my own world.
I'm learning who Michelle is and it turns out, I kinda like her.

Life is too short for me to continue to write and leave my thoughts in cyber space.  I want to build relationships and connect with the loved ones in my life.  And that means telling people what I think face to face, not hide behind the written word in cyber space.  I want to look them in the eyes and hold a conversation so he/she feel as though they are the most important person to me.  Just like Dad used to do.  That is my commitment. 

It is time for me to disconnect in order to reconnect.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

That one hurt....

Tonight, Alexander told me he doesn't remember my dad unless he looks at pictures.


I knew it would happen.  I knew it couldn't be avoided.

It made my heart hurt.

So, we looked at pictures. I shared stories.

And he remembered.

As best as a 6 year old could.

And my heart didn't hurt as much.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

weekend wind-down

Going into the weekend, I always think I'm going to take advantage of the down time.  Not only will I finish the laundry and clean up the house, I'll set up meals for the week, do a little shopping and, weather permitting, work in the yard.
Never happens.
Three or four nights a week I arrive home between 4:30 and 5:00.  That's a 10 or 11 hour day (that easy month of April changed in a hurry when I hired two brand new coaches).
Alexander was out on a sleepover weekend so you would think Eric and I would take advantage of the time alone. Go out and enjoy being grown ups.
Instead, we decided to stay in and enjoy being grown ups in a quiet house.
The weekend began with a date night at Red Robin with Eric. 
 Hooray for finding another gluten-free restaurant!
We watched a few movies.
 Pitch Perfect.
Glee on the big screen.  I loved it.
Trouble with the Curve
A baseball movie with a father and daughter. 
Yes, please.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Fabulous.  Simply Fabulous.
Finished some laundry. 
Took a nap (or two).
I probably should have done some shopping.  Should have done more cleaning. 
I don't really care.
At least I cleaned this hot mess up
This often happens to my closet between winter and spring seasons.
And always leads to ridiculous levels of springtime shopping.
From the comfort of my couch.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

a glimpse into a father-son relationship

Last week, the football coach at school loaned me a book to read.
Backtrack a few months ago to when this same football coach, Steve, approached me about an idea to bring a guest speaker to our community.  He wanted Jeff Erhrmann to speak to students at Liberty.  Being a non-football person, I had no idea who he was talking about so he sent me a link to share with my ASB students. 
 Click here to see the clip.

By this time, Dad had been gone about four months and by the end of the clip, I was crying.  My sweet students were stunned into silence (even though they were used to my tears in those first months).  Why is this guy making their teacher cry?  They didn't see the connections that were so clear to me.  The lines that connected Steve to my dad, whom he loved like a son.  The lines that connected my dad to high school athletics  The lines that connected my dad to his father and to my brother.  I felt Dad had orchestrated Steve to bring this speaker in but the approval wasn't my decision.  It was the kids.  I wiped my tears, lead a discussion on whether or not bringing out this speaker met our vision and mission in ASB and, within minutes, they had agreed to support the visit.  Joe is coming out to us in August.

So, back to Steve leaving the book for me to read.  I inhaled it.  I loved it.  And I started reflecting on the father-son relationships that were closest to me.

From a young age, I instinctively knew the relationship my father had with my brother was unique.
Not because they were boys. 
 Not because my brother was the baby of the family 
Not because the two of them looked exactly the same.

The relationship was different because of how my father would talk with my brother.  Words like "respect", "integrity", "honesty" was uttered between them in virtually every conversation.   My dad intentionally created my brother's character, using love and respect.
I'm not saying he didn't do these things for my sister and I.  He did.  But for my brother, he used the lessons to create a man and that is so very different.
Until I read this book, I didn't realize how intentionally Dad parented.  I have worked with hundreds of students and sadly, so many of the boys are trying to prove something to their fathers to gain approval, affection, or attention.  For some, they eventually find peace.  For others, the struggle lasts well into marriages and parenthood.
My brother never had to prove anything to my dad.  He was loved for simply being Patrick and being the best Patrick he could be, was all Dad ever wanted. 

Dad told my brother he loved him every single day.  My brother was lucky enough to know Dad and has absolutely no regrets about their relationship.  I believe that bond and relationship is why Dad wanted Patrick at his side when he passed away.

It is amazing.
It is beautiful. 

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that my brother will do the same with his son.
And he will do it so very well.
So, that's the first relationship.
My, this is becoming a lengthy post....
The second father-son relationship is this one.
Oh, how I love those faces.
One of the best decisions we ever made was for Eric to stay home with Alexander.
I see that so clearly now.
My dad used to tell me Eric was meant to be a father, being a father would be his greatest accomplishment, and believed wholeheartedly in Eric staying home with Alexander.
Sure, there are some rough days and the house isn't as clean as I want it.
Sure, I get insanely jealous of Eric spending his days at home.
Sure, I wish I had the patience to be a stay-at-home mom.
But let's be real.  Staying at home ain't me.
Eric is building our son's character in the same way my father did with Patrick.
And I didn't realize it until I read the book.
Eric is building our son into a man.
It is a mighty, mighty task for a father.
And my husband is rocking it.
He intentionally parents Alexander so Alexander is learning that he can be secure in being himself.
He tells him he loves him. Every day.
He tells him he is proud of him. Every day.
Eric does not shame him, embarass him, make fun of him or treat him any less than who he is.
He tells him he can be anything he wants and encourages his endless questioning.
Eric doesn't make Alexander prove anything to him on the athletic court, in the classroom or in our home.
He just allows him to be.
And loves him.  No matter what.
It is amazing.
It is beautiful.
It fills my heart with joy.

Monday, April 15, 2013

boston marathon thoughts and prayers

I heard the news around 2:30 this afternoon about the explosion at the Boston Marathon.  I was running an errand after school and the local sports radio station starting talking about it. Needless to say, I was shocked.  And worried for those I know who are there today.

You see, working in a school allows for a sense of isolation.  I am busy with students all day, I don't have the news or TV on so I don't always know what is happening in the real world unless someone mentions it and I pull up the Internet.  And, even then, I end up distracted by students and don't always see the full story until the evening.

There is a blessing to this isolation.  There is also a curse.  Not only do you have to deal with your emotions from an event, but you also have to be there to console and try to help high school students come to grips with their emotions from the event.

When Columbine happened, I was on spring break and found myself glued to the TV.  For hours.  Visions from that day are seared into my mind. That was a terrible day.  Ever since, I vowed to wait a few hours before looking at the images and being very choosy about what I watch.

On 9/11, I was working in a new school that didn't have cable or Internet hooked up.  I didn't see any images until I arrived home late that evening.  Truthfully, I still haven't watched the planes hit the towers. 

I don't watch terrible car crashes.  I have yet to see any footage from the Sandy Hook school shootings or any other major newsworthy events in the past few years.  I just can't do it.

I can't say the same of today's explosion at the race.  To be clear, I didn't watch because of the gore.  What may have begun as a desire to learn more about the event, became an observation of human reaction.  I watched the footage because I was inspired by the policemen and women, the armed forces, the runners and individuals who dove into the middle of the explosion site to help.  They didn't shy away from what must be done.  They dove in and took care of business. 

They took care of each other.
 I love that.

Despite the fear and craziness that is happening in Boston, I want to believe that good will come out of this event.  Seems to me that going after runners might have been a bad move because if there is any group that has proven resilience, it is a group of runners.  I mean, they get up and pound the pavement, mile after mile, FOR ABSOLUTELY NO REASON.  Set off an explosion at one of their events and I suspect runners are not a group that is going to let you win.

Otherwise, if there is no good that comes from today's events, I may have to create some sort of force field around my house to keep us isolated forever.  Because the hardest thing to think about is this evil coming close to my family and hurting one of my boys. 

And I don't have enough alcohol in this house for that pain....or, for that matter, the isolation of living in a force field 24/7.

Please send your thoughts and prayers to Boston right now.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Vegas, baby

Ah, Spring Break.  
 Every teacher and student loves you. 
 Every parent dreads you. 
Personally, I just love to celebrate you.

For years, Spring Break meant a trip with my mom to Las Vegas for a few days of R&R.  Once Alexander was born, it was too difficult to leave the boys and then Dad got really sick and before you know it, it had been seven years since our last trip.  Well, there was the year we went to Vegas when I turned 40 but that trip was in October, not April. 
This year, Mom and I booked a trip from Tuesday to Friday.  Mid-week in Vegas is our favorite time to go.  We settled into our first class seats and we were off!  Once we arrived, we HAD to eat because we discovered that food in first class really isn't any better than when you fly coach.  On the other hand, drinks are way better because they come in pretty glasses and are free!
Dinner at The Pub in Monte Carlo
It was Happy Hour. 
Two beers for the price of one.
I'm never one to pass up a good deal!
Our room had a view of the strip!

We've stayed in several hotels over the years and Monte Carlo is our favorite.  It's a smaller casino and frankly, my mom wins money in the place.  Since I go for the sunshine, all that matters to me is the pool area.  I even got new flippy flops for this adventure!
When it comes to sunshine, Vegas and the Monte Carlo doesn't disappoint.
This year, Mom treated us to the European day bed.  It was luxurious and made us feel like fancy ladies.
Especially when breakfast arrived each morning by 10AM.
Oh, how this girl loves the sunshine!
On Wednesday night, we headed over to Paris to Mon Ami Gabi.
We ate there for my 40th birthday and it was a meal that had to be repeated.
So.  Freaking.  Good.
Other nights were spent eating and drinking too much, exploring Fremont, and gambling.
A lot.
I'm not one for playing slots but even I managed to win a bit.

Not a bad win for putting in 20 bucks!
Winning on the Michael Jackson game was hilarious because I only put in 10 bucks to entertain myself with his music and on the last pull....
 I hit the bonus round!
Vegas has changed a lot over the years.  Most everything is computerized with crazy graphics, food and drinks are a bit more expensive, we've been spoiled in our use of cabanas and daybeds, and there are a lot more families around than I remembered.
But one thing will never change.
Our wacky love of the place.
Blue Men and all!
Thanks for the great trip, Mom!

and, just like that, only nine weeks remain in the school year

I'm the first to admit that blog updates in March are few and far between.  Shoot, let's be serious.  March shows up with a vengeance and kicks my ass. 
Here's a glimpse of our family calendar in March
vs April.

And these pictures don't include events that occurred at school like ASB elections, hiring drill team and cheer coaches within a week of one another, district meetings, and other unexpected miscellaneous adventures.  By the time the weekend rolls around, it's all I can do to muster up the energy to play with my boys, finish a few loads of laundry, and usually end up napping a few times.  Needless to say, the blogs are neglected. 
  It's no wonder that the rest of the school year just flies by.
The first week in April is always our spring spirit week.
The kids decided on "SPLIEK" for a theme.
SPring fLIng weEK - A noun meaing a random spirit week filled with randomness and fun.
I have always, since my own days in high school, loved dressing up for spirit days.
So, for fun, I took pictures of myself in the spirit wear I wore to work.
Excuse the camera quality.   I have a shitty phone camera.
Moody Monday - PJ day
This also happened to be the day I met a couple of co-workers at Starbucks for a meeting before attending a district meeting with the Superintendent in attendance.
Wearing a pink fuzzy robe.
Oh, yes I did.
Thing 1, ThingTuesday - Twin Day
Navy skinny jeans and grey cardigan from Target
Which my friend Donna, also happens to own.
Zoo Day - Bring out your inner animal
I don't wear patterns.  Ever.
But I bought this shirt for a White Trash 40th birthday party last year.
I paired with with a long cardigan and leggings since I had to hold interviews and didn't want to veer too far off the professional path.
Throwback Thursday
Dug out the ol' letterman jacket from back in the day, missing patches/bars/letters and all.
That coat is older than my students.
And several of my co-workers.
Fashion Disaster Friday
This type of day goes against everything in my moral fashion fiber.
So, I chose the ugliest shirt I could find and paired leggings with Uggs.
I feel the leggings/Ugg look is the worst fashion trend of this generation.
I spent the day making fun of the kids.  And they didn't even know it.
I love my job.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

WACA Conference

Last week, I spent three glorious days in Yakima at a conference.  Granted, Yakima was not so  glorious.  Driving over the pass was gross with snow, it was freezing in Yakima, and there wasn't a whole lot to do in the town, other than the attendance the conference.
  The conference was the glorious piece.  Three days to focus my energy and thoughts on my job and how to be a  better leadership teacher.  Three days to sit with co-workers and share ideas and philosophical theories.  Three days to sit in seminars, listen to keynote speakers, and maybe I  caught up on my emails, and took an afternoon to myself and napped learned something new.
There was even a little shout out to my school at the American Heart Association at a booth!

Not only did I have the opportunity to focus on my job, I had the opportunity to spend time with family on Thursday night.
Dinner with this beautiful bride and her mom.
Alice and Karen drove over from Ellensburg to treat me to an amazing dinner.
It was a beautiful evening with a delicious meal and hours of conversation, sharing memory after memory of my dad.  It helped to remind me that talking about my dad doesn't necessarily mean I haven't moved forward and need to talk about him.  Instead, I was reminded that talking about Dad gives others permission to do so, and sometimes, they need permission to share their grief with us. 
With a lightened heart, I joined the rest of the crew for the social and danced the night away with this lovely lady - Tammy.
She's my friend, a leadership teacher, and our summer leadership camp director.
And I adore her.
One week remains in March.  It has been a long haul but the time has flown by and it looks like we survived another one. 
The first week of April brings a spirit week (note to self: move the spirit week to late April!), the homecoming of my in-laws, and counting down the days to a vacation.
Oh, how I need thee!