Friday, March 11, 2011

The Small Things

Yesterday was a beautiful day. We had just received several more days of much needed rain and the skies had cleared - bright blue without a hint of haze or pollution or pollen. I made a fabulous dinner of catfish, roasted garlic potatoes, and corn, and it was still light enough after dinner to take Sydney outside for just a few minutes before playtime and bed.

We have a memorial garden in our backyard. It is small, but positioned very nicely under a climbing and wandering sumac tree in the corner. I initially built it to plant wildflowers that attracted butterflies but over the years the type of flower present in it has changed. We buried our female chinchilla there 5 years ago.

When my father passed away last spring, my English department sent a beautiful white rose bush. It was in full bloom and was a bright spot on an otherwise dreary and somber day. My stepmother, overwhelmed with the foliage present at the funeral, asked me to take the bush home with me. I couldn't think of a better place to put it than in the memorial garden, and it thrived last year.

Which brings me to yesterday. This past week another of our chinchillas passed away. Ares was the runt of his litter, and though he was only 5 1/2, I can imagine he must have had some sort of injury or disorder due to his position in the womb. He was a feisty little guy, hence his name, and I gave him that name as a testament to his personality and taste for life. He will be sorely missed.

But the silver lining is that the skies cleared just for Ares, and we were able to spend family time, albeit burying the little guy, outside before the winter wind took over and chased us back indoors. Sydney was helping Daddy dig and it gave Steve and myself an opportunity to reflect on our changing family and past memories of Mommy and son chinchillas. Altogether, a quiet, reflective, calming evening to a rather hectic week.

The small things - what else am I thankful for at this time?

We got our taxes done and over with - very easily accomplished and the return should be directly deposited into my account. Whew! One less thing in life to worry about for another year.

Our first SOL is over with - the Writing SOL - and I feel fairly confident in my students' abilities - also, one less thing to worry about with them and they can relax for just a bit before we begin to prepare for the Reading SOL. The entire atmosphere of the school is more relaxed, and I am able to enjoy being a teacher again.

My first real illness is come and gone - I haven't been this sick in quite a while, and I blame it on exhaustion and the 'chicken effect.' I went to school sick on Wednesday only because we were still testing, and I knew that if the administration had to find a substitute who could proctor an SOL on top of running the SOLs, heads would explode - or So, I fought it out on Wednesday, came in to cover one class that had no sub on Thursday, then relinquished my classes to my student teacher/long-term sub and went home and slept.

Glorious, deep, healing sleep. I haven't slept like that in so long. And that night, though I faltered a bit and felt like I was backsliding, I slept the entire night on Thursday night, waking up a new person on Friday morning. My students didn't know what hit them. The trend continued last night. I went to bed at an unprecedented 9pm. Steve did his duty and woke me at midnight so I could pump, but then I went right back to bed and slept til Syd woke up this morning. Again, glorious. And to think I simply had to be near collapse before I would allow myself to do this.

Note to self - it is OK to allow yourself to sleep!

I felt so refreshed yesterday at school, I was quite chipper, even when scolding students who were loitering in the halls. One young man responded in kind, started walking with me, and then asked if I wanted to skip. He held out his arm, I took it, and the two of us skipped gleefully down the hall until we got to his destination. I enjoyed that tremendously. He, apparently, did too, since he stopped me later, thanked me, and gave me a fist bump. I just wish I could have seen the security camera footage. My ST was doubled over laughing as she trailed behind us.

The small things - like connecting with a student I've never had in class, probably won't, and who will, regardless, hopefully remember that kindness goes a long way. Like allowing yourself to sleep. Like appreciating the fact that, due to illness, my tolerance for caffeine is much reduced and I can fully wake up with only half a cup of joe instead of my full travel mug (plus, depending on the day and duties). Like knowing that one of the "sure things" in life are taken care of for the year. Like refreshing rain that saturates the ground and relinquishes us from the beginning of a drought. Like family time to reflect on loved ones, living and deceased, and allows us to appreciate all who are in our lives.

And last, even though tonight is daylight savings and we'll lose an hour of sleep, we have a working dvr and Zach Galifianakis is on SNL tonight.

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