Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Reflections

As I sit here with my morning coffee in the quiet pre-Macy's Parade hours, I am pausing to reflect on the real meaning of today. Yes, we are thankful all 365 days of the year for many different things and for many different reasons, but there is something magical and extra special about THIS day. It definitely comes with its own TO DO list based on where you live and the role you play in your family, but even in the midst of the very long and labor-intensive Thanksgiving Dinner Preparation list, I still hold to the belief that today is shrouded in some kind of wonderful "magic". 

Even just looking at my own list for this morning, I feel the magic...
  • The turkey is in the oven, slathered with SYM infused butter. 
  • The table is set using our "good" Rosendal dishes from Denmark.
  • The cornbread is crumbled and waiting to be assembled into traditional cornbread dressing (because stuffing is for pillows). 
  • The eggs are boiling, which is the first step to getting them deviled. 
  • All the sides are just waiting to be assembled at exactly the right time and with exactly the right ingredients.
  • The list is made with precisely scheduled times of when I will take what from the oven and when I will put what in.
  • And each member of the family is tucked away in their beds, not really knowing what all goes into making this meal all come together at exactly 1:00pm. (And I would not have it any other way!)
These things may not be magical for you, but they are reminders to me of the investment that I WILLINGLY make in my family every single day. Some days I do better than others and some days, I just want to ask for a do-over, but MOST nights I can put my head on the pillow, knowing that everything I did was for them. I want what I do in my life to make their lives a little richer, a little fuller, and yes, even a little easier. 

I play many different roles on a daily basis-- from wife to mom to MoMo to mother-in-law (still figuring that one out with my SPURS-loving SIL) to daughter to sister. Each role is so important and so defining of my inner character. But regardless of which role my crew sees me in most often, I hope and pray that they would attest to the fact that within that role I GIVE. I don't want to be remembered for anything other than that-- I want them to know that I exist to GIVE to them. Sometimes the giving is tangible --just like today's meal-- but most days it's invisible. Sometimes what I think I am giving and what they are receiving (or wanting to receive) are not always the same, so we wake up the next day and try a little harder. Sometimes that giving comes as simple encouragement. Sometimes it has the face of accountability. Sometimes it comes in a bleacher or in a text message or in a plate of leftovers. And sometimes it is just a presence. Being quiet and not saying a word--just being. And while that one is the hardest for this advice-giving/world-problem-fixing mom, that one just might be the most important type of all.

So honestly, my hope today on this special Thanksgiving Day 2015 is for Mads, Jess, Jacob, Corrie, Jeff, Dad, and Jennifer to know that I want to give of myself to them and for them every single day.  

Sunday, November 15, 2015

It's just a nose....Right?

I had another post-op follow-up this past week.
First of all, I need to affirm my doctor once again. Dr. Cooks-Norris from The Woodlands Skin Surgery Center is just amazing. Not only is he highly competent, but he is so personable and really takes the time to get to know his patients on an individual level.

He said that he is really happy with my progress. 
I am about 100 days out from my surgery and from his perspective, I am right where I should be in my healing.

Of course, I still have no feeling in the right side of my nose (which he said could last for 6 or 7 months), so when I am really cold and my nose is chilled, it's actually only 50% chilled. 

He did say that two pieces of my scars are in need of a little extra therapy. Yes, I do therapy on my nose-- twice a day, in fact. (Can you picture what nose therapy looks like?!)

Well, one section is rocking with the therapy, but 2 spots need a little more of my focus and intention. Dr. Cooks-Norris said that anyone just meeting me would never know the trauma my nose had been through, but he does validate that THIS IS MY FACE, so he taught me how to really get those scars doing what we want them to do so that my face is returned (as much as possible) to how it "used to be".

He then said that after my next post-op appt. in January, we could make the decision that if I am not satisfied with the progress, he could go back in and tweak those 2 spots. Yes, another surgery. And yes, more anesthesia, so more months of a numb nose. 

I just cocked my head looked at him when he said that.
And remember when I affirmed how much he KNOWS his patients?
He immediately responded with:
    "Kelli, you have never been one of those patients that is concerned with vanity or restoring things to 'how they were before the cancer', so another surgery is most likely not what you would want."

Uh, YEAH. He nailed it.

My response was pretty simple:
    "Even with the 2 not-so-perfect-scars, my nose is cancer-free and that is all I am concerned about. So I will work a little harder on those 2 areas and then the nose I get is the nose I get."

He smiled and nodded and said he already knew before he offered the second surgery what my response would be.

After all, it's just a nose, right?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Taken too early...

I lost a student this weekend. 

I had the honor of being his principal while he was a 7th grader and an 8th grader at Sam Rayburn Middle School. But sadly, it was not until his last few months with me at Sam Rayburn that I really got to know the REAL Tony. 

I used to get on to him for not doing his work. 
I used to get frustrated with him for not "actively" participating in class. And I used to get so disappointed as I watched him "waste his potential" because I knew he was SO DARNED capable. 
Each time I talked with Tony, I was even more convinced of his abilities, so I tried everything I knew to try in order to convince him to be the student I knew he could be...

But then once I took the time to get to know the REAL Tony, I learned his whole story. Tony was not just an 8th grade student; he was also a provider and contributor for his family. 

When he left our campus each day, he went to work. He worked afternoons, he worked weekends, and he worked holidays. And when I learned that about him, I was ASHAMED that I ever accused him of not WORKING to his potential because the more I got to know Tony, I realized he was one of the HARDEST WORKING kids we had on our campus. And at that point, I began to work FOR him. 

We began a plan to get him into MC Harris, our alternative high school of choice so that he could get his diploma faster. He told me about how YES, he WANTED to graduate, but that he needed to get out of school as soon as possible so he could work full time in order to help his family even more.
The forms were filled out. 

The data was gathered.
The signatures were attained and by the end of June, I had approval to send Tony to MC Harris in August.

He was special beyond measure and he HAD A PLAN. 

How often do educators fail to get to know our kids' WHOLE stories? How often do we think we have them all figured out and then get mad at them when they don't meet OUR expectations for them?
How often do we write kids off because they don't seem to do things the way we want them to?
And how often do we have kids sitting in our rooms SO NOT plugged into the academic world because they have so many other responsibilities vying for their attention?

My answer to each of these questions is: TOO often.

Teachers & Principals-
It is time to change HOW we do school.
It's not enough to shake their hands when they walk in our doors each day.
We have to hold onto those hands, look into their eyes, and ASK THEM to let us in to their worlds.
We have to make the effort every single day, every single class period to make sure that special kids like Tony don't slip through our educational cracks. 
They are ENTRUSTED to us each and every day.
Ask yourself if you're worthy of that trust.
And if the answer is not 100% of the time "yes", then what are you going to do to change that?

RIP Tony Ramirez.
I am a better educator because I got to be your principal for just a little while...