Monday, February 29, 2016

Happy Golden Birthday (Part Three - The Idea, Like Helium, Expands)


Outtake #1: This is one of my favorite snaps of my fourth-born's life at age one. But really, a mouth full of Corn Chex is not the most flattering look. 


Last June, when I rolled out a year-by-year photographic essay for my third-born's Golden Birthday, it was all about necessity being the mother of invention.

She was living it up in Vietnam, I was sitting on my hands in America with precious few options for throwing her a worthy celebration.So I spammed Instagram and Facebook with her pretty face and shared the story of her life.

And while that was my seat-of-the-pants solution for a long-distance birthday, I also discovered that the process was a lot of fun.



Outtake #2: While I tried to focus my collection on solo shots, the truth is that my fourth-born rarely spent a moment of her childhood alone. Shown here marching up an improvised slip and slide while a small army of older girls wait patiently for her to clear the racetrack, this is the life my baby truly led. 


I enjoyed the long, lazy trip down Memory Lane, as I strolled through hard copy photo albums, endless digital archives, and even came upon a cache or two of long forgotten random photos filed away in old-school paper envelopes..

I challenged myself to choose scenes that not only reveal chronological ages and stages, but also capture important events and the developing personality of the birthday girl. 

I obsessed over the artsy factor, looking for shots that capture a beautiful scene, that crop and edit themselves into a pleasing square image.

And though this may sound nutty, I loved the rigor of posting those photos hour after hour, around the clock, remembering back to the long hours of labor before the original birthday. My girls each demanded more than twenty four hours of labor from me. They had no qualms about keeping me up all night back then, so it seems entirely fitting to put myself through a sleepless night in commemoration of their births. 


Outtake #3: An adorable shot of my third- and fourth-born, with the younger girl cuddling our good dog, Casey. But the scene is also populated by a handful of other kids and the whole effect is cluttery and distracting. 


So, after completing the project for my third-born last June, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to repeat the process for the other girls. 

As luck would have it, two of the three remaining daughters are also about to celebrate their Golden Birthdays - the year in which they turn the age of the date on which they were born. My fourth-born just hit her gilded milestone last week; my first-born will score hers in May.

And in June, my second-born honors the tenth anniversary of her Golden Birthday, which presents itself as the perfect opportunity for a belated bash.



Outtake #4: A PERFECT shot of Daughters Three (far right) and Four (far left) with their sibling BFFs but uncroppable into a square format. Oh, the amazing snowy memories!



I will have a lot of pictures to post in the next few months.

But I don't mind one little bit. 


Outtake #5: Posting swim suit photos on line without express permission? Always a bad idea. 
Oops. Just did it anyway. 

It's a small thing I do, this capturing of four young lives well lived. 

And it's the very least a mother can do to show her girls how much they are loved. 


Outtake #6: A scene from the Christmas tree farm, intended only as a private message to Daughter Number Three in Vietnam. But those smiles are too good to hide forever. 

Go here to see all the photos.

* * * * *

See more of my Golden Birthday stories and photos here:

Making It Happen

"A dream doesnt become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work." 
-Colin Powell

More than a decade ago, my second-born's middle school buddy - named Scotty - told her that someday he would be a famous rapper and his stage name would be Ska-T. 

Now, pretty much every kid in America dreams of becoming a rock star. 
Or a professional athlete.
Or an astronaut.

Or in the case of some overachievers, all three.

But here's the thing. Scotty did not just sit around dreaming. 

After getting the practical aspects of his adult life together, he got to work on making his dream come true. For the past year, Ska-T has been recording music, performing at clubs around Seattle and perfecting his art

Here are a few shots from last week's show at The Jet:


Artistically speaking, Ska-T describes his style as a high-energy and unforgettable blend of Hip-Hop and Reggae with hard hitting, faced paced flows and laid-back tropical vibes. 

You can pretty much smell the Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion and feel the sand between your toes as you listen. 


Ska-T boasts a commanding stage presence far beyond his experience, and uses wardrobe changes, logos,, props and giveaways to engage the crowd on multiple levels. 


He also taps into some family talents: that's his dad, the legendary Conman, on drums, and his brother - aka Twisted Chich - waving the Jolly Roger for all he's worth. 




A multisensory feast for any music aficionado, Ska-T entertains across a broad spectrum and is well worth a listen.

And I'm not just saying that because he's my friend and former student.

Or because his mother is my BFF.
Or even because I am a sucker for all things Jamaican. I mean come on, that bobsled team.

I support and encourage Ska-T because I believe in the power of dreams coming true. And I'm fiercely proud of Scotty - the man behind the music - for putting in the sweat, determination and hard work required to make it happen. 


Photo credits to Heidi who always, always has her camera pointed in the right place at the right time. <3

Thursday, February 25, 2016

An Ordinary Day

Ranger much prefers to work the natural underbrush at the edge of a forest clearing, 
but in a pinch, he'll settle for a few manicured neighborhood shrubs. 


Today was an ordinary day.
Today was a momentous day.

For the first time since last Sunday, Ranger went for his daily walk.

* * * * *

We were still in the outbound leg of our ritual adventure when Ranger was attacked by another dog.

The dog was playing off-leash on a soccer field adjacent to our path.
He first encountered Ranger through the chain link fence. They sniffed each other without incident.
Then, ignoring his owner's commands, the dog ran to the exit, passed through the gate and doubled back to meet Ranger face-to-face on our side of the fence.

Without warning or cause, the larger dog jumped up and knocked Ranger to the ground.
He bit at Ranger's rear end many times.
His owner continued to call to him, but he did not obey.
The sounds of this chaos, including my own shouts and screams, were indescribable.

It was a horrible, violent scene.

After what seemed like hours, the owner hauled his dog off.
Ranger jumped up and ran a few paces away.
The man began to apologize to me, but then looked over my shoulder in horror.

Ranger was bleeding profusely.

My first fear was that a major artery had been cut.
But then I remembered his tumor.

Ranger's surgeon has explained to me that the large tumor growing on Ranger's back end is essentially a ball of blood, and if opened up, can result in uncontrollable blood loss and a quick death.

That's why he deemed Ranger's tumor inoperable.

In a flash, I realized that Ranger's tumor had been nicked in the attack and was now pulsing blood at a shocking rate - his back end was already drenched and he stood in a growing puddle of red.

Ranger's eyes met mine in a moment of shared horror. And then I flew into action.

I ripped off my trusty orange fleece jacket and commanded the stunned owner to put pressure on Ranger's rump.

I bent my knee and wedged my leg underneath my poor dog, who was clearly in shock, to hold him upright. He sagged against me. With one calming hand, I petted and soothed him, while my other trembling hand dialed my husband.

Come immediately. I said, strangely calm. This is an emergency. Ranger has been attacked and he is bleeding very badly.

Ranger laid limply across my lap during the drive as I kept pressure on his wounds. I did not expect him to survive.

At the emergency vet clinic, capable women strapped him to a transport board and whisked him away.

Then we waited.

* * * * *

An hour later, a doctor explained the damage. The injuries from the attack are not too bad, she said. But he has a big tumor, she said, which will inevitably lead to his demise.

Yes, I know all about his tumor, I said.

"One option is to euthanize him tonight," she said.

No, I said. Not tonight. We will give him a chance to recover.

"Fair enough," she said. "Then we need to keep him overnight to observe him."

No, I said. He's coming home tonight.

"If that's what you prefer," she said. "Give us a few hours to get him stitched and cleaned up."

* * * * * 

So, Sunday evening around ten p.m., we brought Ranger home.

He was weak, wobbly and exhausted. I laid on the floor next to him all night long as his tumor wounds slowly bled into the towels wrapped around his back half.

Things did not look good for Ranger.

But by the next morning, we noticed a change.

Ranger was still sore and spent, but the Irish twinkle in his eye still shined.

I noticed the hint of a spring in his step as he took his rounds in the back yard.
I watched as he quietly monitored the couch traffic, and cautiously made his move up to a coveted cushion when a spot opened up
I took in the familiar perk of his ears at the offer of a treat.

The bleeding eventually subsided.

Over the next few days, his strength and spirit have continued to gradually increase.

* * * * *

I've taken a hundred pictures of Ranger lying on the front lawn after a walk. 
And today, I'm thrilled to make it a hundred and one. 


Today has been the kind of warm February day that stirs hope in the hearts of winter people everywhere. I'm particularly susceptible to this form of spring fever and this afternoon, I threw open the windows, washed an avalanche of bloodied towels, and vacuumed up the messy rooms where Ranger has been nursed.

In that heady spirit of renewal and rebirth, I came to a certain conclusion. Ranger needs a walk, I decided, even if it's nothing more than a slow sniff around the front yard on the end of his short leash. My fourth born offered to accompany him, and the adventure went so well that they ambled down the street a bit, and came back to lounge a few moments in the sunny front yard.

And while it is hardly up to the standard of our typical afternoon outing, that ten-minute stroll is momentous in its own way.

Because after the events of this week, I am delighted to find that Ranger is having anything that remotely resembles an ordinary day..

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Magic Of Marble


Yesterday, for my fourth-born's Golden Birthday cake, I baked her a cherry pie.

She's one of those people who choose fruit pies over cake any old day of the week. And so even though pie baking is far more labor-intensive and straight-up messier that whipping up a homemade cake, I always deliver to her exactly what she wants, pastry hassles and messy kitchen be damned.

But this year was different because, for the first time, I rolled out her birthday pie crust on my new kitchen counters.

The sleek slab of cool marble makes an ideal pastry work surface. Toss on a handful of flour, roll out the dough and the crust practically leaps into the pie plate of its own accord.

And the new under mount sink makes clean-up a breeze. Just grab the dishcloth and shove the whole gnarly mess into the sink with the garbage disposal. Rinse and...no, you don't even have to repeat. One solid wipe and the mess is history

I must confess, I didn't see any of this coming. I chose my counter tops strictly based on appearances. I'm not ashamed to admit that I can be totally superficial like that.

So it has been a grand and glorious surprise to discover how practical and functional my counter top choice turns out to be.

No matter what kind of counters I have, I will always bake birthday pies for my baby.

But now, with my magic marble counters, I expect to enjoy the process a whole lot more.

* * * * *

I like to write stories about pies. If you like to read stories about pies, try these:

Saturday, February 20, 2016

My Whole 30

I'm sick and tired of obsessing over food and worrying about my weight. 

After a lifetime of experimentation, I'm done with eating regimes that unreasonably restrict my meals and blithely promise to feel and look like a whole new person.

I'm looking at you, Whole 30 and your whole company of cleanses, cures and dietary crazes.

In keeping with my 2016 mindset of No Day But Today, I've decided to liberate myself once and for all from this drama. My eating plan is this:

No grains.
No sugar.

And no more regrets.

I'm doing a bit of rewiring to let go of the old cravings, and over the past few weeks, I've challenged myself to keep simple, satisfying treats around the house that will make my new habits feel natural and satisfying.

Here are thirty gratifying, go-to tidbits that make me feel happy, full and free from the roller coaster of diets.

fresh pineapple
roasted cashews
broiled salmon
cherry tomatoes
roasted pumpkin seeds

tamari roasted almonds
veggie chips
baby carrots
apple slices
pepper jack cheese

 sweet potato chips
pistachios
sliced peppers
sliced pear
salami

 pecans
orange slices
swiss cheese
fresh mango
chicken sausage

mixed veggie chips
cucumber
dates
sunflower seeds
hummus

sliced bananas
chicken meatballs
celery
dried cranberries
peanut butter

Alright


For the past few weeks, life in my little corner of the world has been rough.

I personally don't have much to complain about. 

But all around me, friends are going through unspeakably difficult times.

Life support.
Emergency surgery.
Conferences with somber, hope-less doctors.
And straight-up unexpected death.

Court cases.
Physical and emotional abuse.
Prison sentences.
And painful transitions to foster families.

Depression.
Bipolar.
Ineffective meds.
Overwhelming frustration and suicide.


At times like this, I'm tempted to write the whole world off as unthinkably cruel and hopelessly messed up.

Sometimes my mind can't handle any more.


But my heart and soul fear nothing.

Because I know, deep and true, that we are not alone in this sometimes heartless world.

Just as surely as spring comes again, and crocuses rise from their dry, brown bulbs to bloom in glory, so does God's love shine like the sun and warm our hearts with his tender mercy and care.

I know. Not everyone has such a gift of faith. Not everyone believes in happy endings. 

But I do.

And if you have any doubt about that, then I am praying that God will fill your heart and soul with the certainty that he loves you more than you can possibly know, and that, as impossible as it may seem right now, everything is going to be alright. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Buried Treasure

Tonight's twlight, as seen during my walk with Ranger. Little did I know what plans were taking shape in his head as I innocently strolled along. 

Before dawn this morning, I was greeted by the sound of my dog standing at the side of my bed and whimpering for my attention.

Not my favorite way to start the day.

Cmon boy, Jump up. I patted the bed in what I hoped was an enticing manner. At five a.m, I'm never entirely sure what I'm doing.

He jumped up and settled down. But a few snatches of sleep later, he was back at the side of the bed, crying plaintively, swatting at anything in sight in his most desperate attempt to get me to do what he wants.

But I had no idea what the heck he wanted.

Cmon boy. Jump up.

We went back and forth like this for hours. Finally, around eight, after Ranger had switched up his strategy and stomped out into the hall to bark while standing at the top of the stairs, I gave in. Wrapping myself up in the comforter against the damp and dreary morning chill, I put my feet on the floor and forced myself to follow my now-delighted dog down the stairs and, presumably, over to the back door.

We were halfway down the stairs when I opened my eyes far enough to notice. My dog had an extra spring in his step, a sassy bounce, an elevated sense of swag. Suddenly I realized why.

Ranger was prancing along with a chew bone in his mouth.



Yes. That chew bone. The one he had taken outside over two weeks ago and buried in the back yard. The one that was now covered in dirt and trailing bits of bark as my besotted dog carried it down the stairs.

Suddenly it all made sense.

On his early morning bathroom break, Ranger had dug up his bone. My husband later confirmed that indeed, Ranger had shown up at the back door around 4:45 a.m., ready to come back in, with his precious possession held between his little white teeth. My husband took mercy on him, and uncharacteristically let the little red gentleman march his filthy treasure up the stairs and into my bed.

Yes, the well-aged chew treat had been IN my bed. Further inspection turned up a layer of unspeakable debris strewn through the layers of my bed covers, as Ranger had undoubtedly attempted to bury his bone in my bed. Unsatisfied with his efforts, Ranger had been after me all morning to take him back downstairs and out into the yard where he could return his treasure to a suitably safe spot.

Oh good lord.

So finally, finally, I let my dog out into the misty morning, and he soon returned with an empty mouth and a dirty little nose, a sure sign that he had well and properly buried his bone. And I trusted that he would leave it alone for a good long time, while he thought up some new indoor hiding places.

But on that count, I was completely wrong.

Because when I went up to my room tonight and turned down the covers, what do you think I found?

Yes. Ranger's dirty chew treat. Buried once again in my bed.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sassy


This sassy Mexican blanket entered my life last Christmas. 

A gift from my second-born.

Seductively soft, nappy textured cotton.
Bohemian bits of fringe.
Traditional bold black and white pattern.
Brilliant stripes of orange and pink.

I love every saucy inch. 

But until today, I have not been exactly sure where to put it. 


Turns out that my living room, with its current blend of neutral and natural decor, is the perfect backdrop for a textile with attitude. This room is begging for a bit of sass which my Mexican blanket is only too happy to provide. 

Welcome home, blanket. 


In the meantime, a certain someone slept nearby.


Don't let that handsome profile and distinguished silver muzzle lull you into complacency.

This is a cheeky Irishman on a mission.

Somehow, Ranger's internal clock was way off today. We had more than an hour to go before walk time. But that did not deter my headstrong dog.

As soon as Ranger realized my attention had shifted from the blanket to his very own self, he put his full persuasive efforts into overdrive.

He flopped down to a prone position, buried his head adorably in the rug, locked his eyes onto mine, and began to cry. 


When I say cry, what I mean is that what started first as a gentle whimper and then a subtle whine soon evolved into a wrenching scream that likely made the howler monkeys at the zoo cover their ears and wince in pain.


To be honest, Ranger's display of attitude was so outrageous that I couldn't help myself. I sat down next to him on the floor and just plain laughed myself silly.. 

He stopped his fuss to listen to me. 

Then I explained that walk time was still over an hour away.

He calmed down a bit more, but still he lasered those big brown eyes onto mine, shooting me with electric bolts of cleverness and clearly hoping to change my mind. 

And that's when I realized that my Mexican blanket was no longer the sassiest thing in the room.

Monday, February 15, 2016

My Yelp Review

"I'm the best there is at what I do." - Wolverine from X-Men

The true magnificence of the marble and precision of the stonework is not fully 
revealed in this photo, but you get the idea. 


If you are looking for a counter top super hero, choose Mike Cooper. 

I'll be honest. When it comes to contracting work on my home, I'm a nit-picking perfectionist. I have ridiculously strong opinions about what I want and borderline unrealistic standards about the finished look. Not surprisingly, I have a hard time finding ordinary human beings who can live up to my high expectations. 


Mike Cooper totally rescued me from the sea of average contractors. From our first meeting to discuss my project to the final install, every aspect of Mike's process and professional manner was spot-on. He pays close attention to detail, communicates well, and follows through on all phases of the job. 


For seven hours last Friday, my home transformed into a makeshift stone fabrication site. Between the heavy duty trolleys, various saws, and windswept spray of fine marble dust, Mike and his crew were definitely not fooling around. 


His wife, Jenna, was also a huge asset to the project. I spent several hours with her in the Lynnwood showroom, mulling over design options and bouncing ideas off her. Her knowledge, flexibility and listening skills are also off the charts. 

Ranger is always a little uneasy with workmen in the house, 
but he gives our new counters two big paws-up. 


I love, love, LOVE my new counter tops. Not only are they beautiful, but every detail of their craftsmanship and installation is immaculate. 

When it comes to stone counter tops, Mike Cooper is the best there is at what he does.



* * * * *

Mike Cooper owns Integrity Stonework and serves up his super powers all over western Washington. His wife manages their showroom in Lynnwood on 196th, open Wednesdays through Saturdays. Their young son reportedly loves to play with rocks. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Excited



I would love to tell you all about my new kitchen counters that were installed today.

But I'm a little busy right now, alternately scrubbing down every dusty inch of the construction zone and turning cartwheels for sheer joy. 

I'll get back to you soon. 

Signs of Spring


Yesterday, I took down all my paper snowflakes, ironed them, and packed them away till next year.

Yes, I do iron my snowflakes.
That's not weird.

What's weird is that the day actually warm enough that I could manage this task in my bare feet.

Hmm. Ironed snowflakes and bare feet.

These are two very good signs that spring must be right around the corner.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Little Golden Tale

“Be thou comforted, little dog, Thou too in Resurrection shall have a little golden tail”


The season of Lent is here. 

Now is the time to put away the last traces of the Christmas glitz and glamour - oh, yes, I do still have my garlands up and lights a-blazing - and settle down into the certainty of the pre-Easter season, which is this:
We are mortal. Just as surely as we were born, we will one day die.
But we need not fear death, because God promises us something more. 

I know. At first, that feels like an unbearably heavy message, doesn't it.

But if we can receive those words with faith, then joy of Easter and the promise of heaven will undoubtedly follow.

* * * * *

In other news, I took Ranger to the vet this week.

He has, I am sorry to say, a huge tumor on his back end. It's not cancerous, thank goodness, but it is a nasty, inoperable thing, and there is no way to stop it from growing. I am being challenged to settle down into the certainty of his doctor's words, which were this:
Take your dog home. Give him the best life you possibly can
And when his suffering becomes too much, let him go. 

Ouch. At first, that felt like an unbearably heavy message for me.

But I have to remind myself that Ranger is just as mortal as anyone else. And just as surely as he was born, his little doggy life has been long, and the day that he will die draws near.And God promises more to him - oh yes, dogs most certainly do go to heaven - and so I am working to receive Dr. Bennett's words with faith, and live out Ranger's life in joy. 

And now please excuse me, as it's time to take my good dog for a walk.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Difference Between Cam Newton and Russell Wilson

Look. I don't plan to sink down into the quagmire of shaming, blaming and poor sportsmanship.

Though the thought is tempting.

Instead, I'll just share with you the post-game videos of the two most recent Super Bowl losing quarterbacks: Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks' 2015 last-minute loss, and Carolina's Cam Newton whose team suffered defeat in yesterday's 2016 championship match-up.

Check them out.





No one likes to lose.

We can all understand that.

And I think there's a little part of each of us that can appreciate how easy it would be, in the face of tremendous failure, to retreat to a petty, petulant place.

But when a man can rise above his disappointment, and speak out about responsibility, commitment, hope and love, well, then he is more than just an elite athlete or a graceful loser,

He is a true man..

Happy Tetlunese New Year



Tet. 
Lunar New Year. 
Chinese New Year. 

Call it what you will, but I've been lucky enough to celebrate this ancient holiday in three different countries scattered across two continents, in a handful of traditional ways. 

I've eaten fish and oranges,
lit a few firecrackers,
passed out money to children, 
and swept clean the house. 

And let's not forget the iconic red lanterns. 

I've nearly collapsed underneath their festooned garlands in blazing tropical heat, and risked hypothermia to snap photos of them in the Seattle winter. 

I'll go to great lengths to celebrate a holiday with three different names. 

So let the festivities begin as we all ring the Year of the Monkey  

Happy Tetlunese New Year!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Life As A Math Teacher: My Hero

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. 
- Issac Newton


Once upon a time, there was a boy named John.

I know. Not an exciting start to the story. Please bear with me.

Even though he was a simple boy from a small town in the deep south, John had a big dream.

He hoped to become an Air Force fighter pilot.

As dreams go, that one is about as finely tuned and high-reaching as they come.

But guess what. Against all odds, John made his dream come true. Eventually, he flew 55 missions in a B-26 Night Intruder during the Korean war, worked as a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base from 1957 to 1962, and later served in Vietnam. Bucket list item most definitely ticked.

When John retired from the Air Force, he established a quiet life in Norman, Oklahoma and thought about what to do next. And as he pondered his options, his thoughts kept circling round and drifting back to the circumstances of his own satisfying life, and this is what really captivated his mind:
I achieved my life's dreams because of math. I could never have made it as a pilot without my engineering degrees, and I would have not succeeded as an engineering student if not for my strong background in high school math.
And with that sentiment, John dedicated the remaining decades of his life to helping high schoolers build math skills that would allow them to make their own dreams come true. He developed a revolutionary math curriculum uniquely built for success, and spent years as an outspoken advocate for a return to strong, unsullied math education in American high schools.


In case you don't know, this man's name is John H. Saxon Sr.

And he is my hero.

Honestly, I get choked up l every time I ponder his genuine heart, deep wisdom and powerful educational vision.

I am a passionate proponent of his methods and his materials. They work. Every student who makes an effort to follow the Saxon program will succeed - I've seen it happen a hundred times. In fact, I would never teach students using any other curriculum.

John Saxon is the best.

Even though Mr. Saxon died in 1997, after a long, rich and rewarding life and just a few years before I began teaching algebra to high school students, I like to think we are kindred spirits.

Just ask my students. I speak his name pretty much every day in our lessons, invoking his wisdom and channeling his encouragement. I like to think he's sitting alongside of us,

doling out distance problems about girls who hike to Lake Tenkiller and ride back with Mr. Ali,
insisting that a good first step is to isolate our radicals,
and reminding us to always, always draw the diagram first as an aid to problem-solving.


And while I humbly acknowledge that I bring my own gift for teaching to the table, my success as a high school math teacher has been accomplished by standing on the shoulders of this math education giant, John Saxon


* * * * *

Other stories about my work:

Friday, February 5, 2016

Life Of A Math Teacher: What I Do

The measure of a central angle is equal to the length of its intercepted arc. 
Also, circles are pretty.


I am a high school math teacher.

I don't teach math because I love math.
I teach math because math makes my students' dreams come true.

I happen to love math too, but that's just a bonus.

Here's the thing. While young children are blessedly content to live in the moment, teens begin to dream about the future. They imagine living out their true selves in all sorts of interesting ways, and one of the most common expressions is vocation.Trying this job and that profession on for size, teenagers visualize themselves as adults and consider how they might make a passionate and meaningful contribution to the world.

I love that.

Truth be told, my job is not really about teaching teens to use the quadratic formula; I am actually in the business of helping my students make their emerging dreams come true.

I am, I suppose, a dream catcher.

But.

Another truth to be told is that a dream is not worth much unless you have to work for it.

And that work often involves doing math.

No, I'm not going to drag out that old, tired argument that we must learn to solve problems about trains going north and south from the station because math is involved in all walks of life. That is mostly true but it's not what I'm getting at.


Parallel lines project stability and calm. They also have matching slopes. 


What I mean to say is this:
In order to make most dreams come true, a person needs education beyond high school.  
In order to qualify students for that training, most institutions of higher learning want to see proof of academic competence. 
And that almost always translates into admissions folks asking to get a peek at students' math scores.
We can debate all day whether standardized test scores are an accurate or fair way to measure a human being's potential for success. But that's not my point either. 

My point is that you will be more likely to make your own dreams come true if you can rock out some algebra.

A person who succeeds as math is considered smart.
And when a person is considered smart, doors will open.

The rule of thumb in decor is to group objects in odd numbers. 
But an even-numbered pair of things can be quite satisfying also. 

So maybe that is the best definition of my job.

I'm a doorman.

Because what I really do, most of all, is help my students open the doors of their dreams so they can step into their own bright and shining futures.

* * * * *

Other stories about my work:

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Orange-Cupped Daffodil


If I were a flower, I think I would want to be the single orange-cupped daffodil in this vase.

I'm not afraid to be a little bit different, but I do like to be surrounded by people who get me. 


Alone but never lonely. That's the way I like to roll. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hidden Beauty


Sitting abandoned on the shelf at the thrift store, the object of my attention looked as battered and beaten down as Lord Voldemort's horcruxed soul.

It's alright, I told myself. I'll drill a hole in the bottom, fill it with dirt and use it as a planter. All those nicks and scratches will disappear behind a riotous display of rich, green leaves.

But on the ride home, this wooden bowl began to speak to me.


Look at my contours, she said. You don't see these kind of curves every day.
Check out my undulating grain patterns. To die for.
And you're right. I would make a lovely planter. But I could be so much more.

As I turned the bowl over in my hands, listening to her voice and imagining the possibilities, I caught a glimpse of a mark on the bottom


Sweden. And undecipherable words that surely must indicate the craftsman.

I'm not a label chaser, but that kind of insignia usually marks an item made with quality and care.

We took a detour to pick up sanding pads and finishing oils.


After ten minutes of sanding and a quick rub-down with mineral oil, all of the scratches, dings and dents had disappeared and my bowl's transformation was complete.

As I proudly displayed my newfound treasure, each of my daughters has asked me, "What are you going to do with it?"

I'm not entirely sure.


But for now, it's more than enough to set my wooden bowl out on the table, where I can see it every day and be reminded now important it is to look beyond the superficial flaws of life to see the hidden beauty that lies underneath.