Saturday, August 23, 2008

The First Year at School- A Perspective

Author's Note: As many children go to school for the first time, it's also an emotional event for the parent. As the years roll along, and every fall a new school year begins, it causes us to reflect upon those days with our children. This story is inspired by a similar event by my first child attending kindergarten

The alarm bell rings loud and my daughter covers her ears. She doesn't like it. It signals change and change is sometimes scary. She dresses. She eats. She brushes her hair and her teeth. I urge her along as we must get moving to another destination. She stalls. She whines. It's something she doesn't want to do.

"But why, mommy? Do I have to go? " she cries and her face is glistened with tears running down her cheeks. Her mouth pouts and she sniffs loudly.

"Yes, honey, you must. Now, don't worry. This is a good thing and you'll be fine at the end of your day," I say, trying my best to soothe her woes. I wrap arms around her tight and bend down to her level, " I love you sweetie. Now, you be a big girl now. C'mon. You can do it and time will ease your pain."

So reluctantly she goes, into my Ford pinto, and we drive the equivolent of ten blocks. We arrive to a large brick building and she enters inside, along with all the other children her age, entering kindergarten for the first time. She tugs on her backpack to adjust it before going in herself. She turns to wave and I feel a tug at my heart.

I think, yes, this is a good thing. She will learn from this experience. She will grow up a little inside and treasure the memories that this will bring. One day, she will see this is meant to be.

On a different day, we do the same:

The bell rings loud in the hallway and my daughter covers her ears. She doesn't like it. It signals change and change is sometimes scary. I urge her along as we must get moving to another destination. She stalls. She whines. It's something she doesn't want to do.

"But why, mommy? Do I have to go? " she cries and her face is glistened with tears running down her cheeks. Her mouth pouts and she sniffs loudly. Her hands clasp tightly to all her rewards received that long year, for improvement in writing, for good conduct, for perfect attendance.

"Yes, honey, you must. Now, don't worry. This is a good thing and you'll be fine at the end of your day," I say, trying my best to sooth her woes.

So reluctantly she follows me, out of the auditorium and onto the school lawn. My pinto sits along the curbside. The children rush out of the building. Summer waits, but my daughter pauses on the sidewalk and looks back. She adjusts her backpack and waves at a young, pretty lady standing close by, near the steps. Then all at once, my daughter makes a mad dash towards her and wraps arms tightly about her waist.

"Oh, Miss Tina, I'm going to miss you!" my daughter cries. The teacher smiles and places her hand over her heart. She bends down to her level.

"Yes, I know. I'll miss you too. But summer goes by fast and soon fall will come around again. You'll be entering the first grade and my class will be just down the hall. We'll see each other again. You can do this and time will ease your pain. Trust me."

"I do trust you, Miss Tina, and I'll always love you," My daughter says, embraces her once more, and then dashes back to me. I see the teacher wipe her eyes as my daughter waves madly to her as we pull away from the curb. My daughter sits back into her seat and studies her papers, smiling with pride.

And then in silence, I drive us back the equivolent of ten city blocks to our home. Along the way, I think, yes, this is a good thing. She will learn from this experience. She will grow up a little inside and treasure the memories. One day, she will see this was all meant to be.

@ August 2008 by Chriss Hill

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Songs that stick to you, like gum on bottom of shoe

Here in Texas, the summer season seems to last and last, right up until the time Halloween gets here. School begins around the 26th and so we had opportunity on Saturday to have a barbecue- one last family hoorah before the sunny days are gone and the kids get too caught up with school activities. It was also a perfect way just to have fun with the family.

And so, I invited my mother and step-dad over and my daughter Tracy and her husband, who are in their late 20's, and their kids. We had a great time, blending in the generations, sharing stories, and just bonding. Of course, we can't get too rowdy around Grandma and Grandpa. But once we were fed and had too much frozen margaritas, my mom and step dad went home, packed up with good leftovers. Then the real party began.

Tracy had brought over her Karaoke machine. My youngest daughter, Kayla, and my granddaughter, Mariah were busy looking up songs on Youtube to sing along with us. When you get your own family to act goofy in front of a microphone, it can get really funny. My hubby sang a rendition of Johnny Cash's "I walk the line" , which I highly doubt that he could have, considering all he drank that afternoon. You know it gets hot barbecuing chicken and sausage, so he needed all that "wet stuff" to cool him off. Yeah, sounded like a good excuse, but when he got up to sing, not his usual thing to do at all, it was hilarious!

My son-in-law crooned to "When a Man loves a woman", to Tracy and she batted her eyes like she was in heaven. (ah, young love) while I belted something by the B-52's "Love Shack" and the "Macarena" to get everyone singing along and dancing. Tracy sang something by "Madonna", while her daughter just watched how silly all of us became. Now my youngest, Kayla, has a wide assortment of music that she likes, ranging from Christian music to country, some occasional rap and pop rock tunes. Every once in a while, she will get hung up on a song she finds on the Internet, and then I'm introduced to a whole realm of new music. This is the way I was introduced to my favorite Dutch band, Within Temptation. When you connect with the younger generation through music, it keeps our conversations interesting and since she is a teenager, experiencing new looks and new things, I get involved. Is it wholesome? Is it too influential? That sort of thing.

But recently, she came across this one group that blended in a bit of 1930'ish German Cabaret with modern pop/rock sounds and goth lyrics, displaying just a hint of sexy appeal. The group is called The Dresden Dolls", a boy drummer and a girl pianist/soloist, and they came about on the music scene really around 1984. I guess she happened into their music, but just one session of watching their Youtube video, and I was hooked on this one crazy song called "Coin-operated boy".

I found the song really catchy and the look really cabaret. The girl isn't beautiful, but she looks like a typical young woman seeking to find honest love, after being so deceived by the "real boys". She looks great in this video even with the strange eyeliner design penciled upon her brow. The boy, with his mime-type makeup, I find strangely appealing as well, especially the way he looks when she mentions taking him to the "bath". The ending is kind of bitter sweet. Perhaps a reflection that even something dreamt up can't be fulfilling. It brings up a discussion about love and disillusionment, the sort of angst that teenagers question as they begin their meanderings through relationships, all things being new and them being very inexperienced. So yeah, when Kayla brings up new music, I like that we can have frank discussions about the music, content, and why she finds it appealing.

Music has always been a strong influence among my family members. I can remember many times belting out songs while driving to the store and my kids being in the back singing along. There have always been songs to put us in a happy mood, or bring back memories, or allow us to cry when we were feeling down. There are songs, like "Coin Operated Boy" that are a bit unusual and will stick to your head no -matter what.

So, how has music influenced you? What songs make you feel a certain way and why? And do you have any unusual songs that stick to your brain like gum on bottom of shoe, no matter what you do to get it out of your head? Share with me some of your stories.

And as I sit here on Sunday morning, drinking my coffee, I'm going to play that song for the 5th time, because i like it and I can't get it out of my head. I'm sharing this with you too, so if it sticks with you, you can blame it on me. :)


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Has the economy made an impact on your life?





This morning, I happened to catch a news segment on tv about a young
couple facing financial difficulties. The mother of two middle-school
boys had visited a food pantry for assistance and was in tears as she
went about with the helper getting food for her family. Her crying had
caught my attention so I sat down to watch for a few minutes, as I had
to leave for work.



The story told that the couple was facing foreclosure and had given up
many items through pawnshops or just selling them outright. The husband
had given up a prized motorcyle. This all stemmed because of an injury
he sustained at work as a subcontractor. He had fallen and was now left
with nerve damage to his legs. There was no insurance coverage. He once
earned over $70 thousand a year, but now only received disability. His
wife went to work part time as a cleaning person in a church to help
ends meet. Their income now was about $25 thousand a year. A very
significant life change and they struggled to keep things "normal" for
their sons.

As I watched the young mother look around the shelves to pick out food
items, my heart went out to her. I could feel her pain and I could feel
her sense of gratefullness when she turned to the food pantry worker and
told her thanks and then hugged her.

Since my link never works properly on this page, you can view the actual story from CBS by copying this link to your browswer:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/08/06/eveningnews/main4326277.shtml

I think a lot of people are feeling economic woes and some are not even
caused by something drastic as this. I know in my own family, we are
tightening up our belts, but on some days, with gas and food prices up,
it doesn't seem enough. My husband has been lucky to be covering for two
guys at the warehouse being out on surgery leave. That allows him to get
some overtime. But when it came time to pay bills recently, we were
still in need of more money . An opportunity came for me to work in my
hospital part-time, to assist the nurses on the floors with simple
patient care, so I jumped at the chance. Granted, it takes me away from being on my computer in the afternoons to promote my book here,so I apologize for a late blog being posted, but I'm getting satisfaction for caring for others. Plus I'm helping my family finances so we can stay afloat.


I stopped by the bank this morning to put in money to cover a "check" I
had authorized on line for paying one of my bills. I spoke with one of
the bank managers in passing. She had told me she had taken back her
married son and wife into her household, as things were too tough for
them to get a good start. She had more adults in the household,
including a son who is a senior and another son who is single and just
working, all trying to get by on these trying times. I left there
thinking, "Wow!"

So I think a lot of us are in the same boat. I think all of us are
learning to cut back on habits of dining out, driving around for fun,
and just blowing money on stuff we want versus stuff we really need.
Sure is hard to do, even for me. Nowdays, if I just buy a happy meal from
McDonalds, that is a major splurge for me. How about you? What are you
doing to cut back or alter in your spending habits? Do you think this
will be a short term thing or will you be more tight-stringed for a long
time to come? How has the economic situation impacted your family?