I have no pithy title for this post.

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It’s been a day. A long hard gut wrenching day.

Really, in some ways it’s been a long (almost) 2 years. In that time:

One of my kids learned the hurt that careless words can inflict. How things can never be unsaid. And more importantly, can never be unheard. And that the scars left, though not visible, are deep and forever.

One of my kids learned when an excellent job is expected, doing an adequate job is not enough. And that adequate job has to be done over, with excellence. And dreams get put on hold.

One of my children learned that one can work so hard, put in all the effort, and if someone else doesn’t do their part, the hard work means nothing. And there is nothing to do, but continue to work hard, work harder.

And I have learned, it’s impossible to soften the blows.

Today, all I could do was listen.

Listen while one child raged against their body, which seemingly refuses to cooperate, despite countless hours of training.

Listen while one child expressed excitement, tempered by trepidation, as they set off on a voyage to an exotic, hostile destination.

Listen while one child wept. Wrenching sobs as friends were sentenced to real prison time for crimes committed out of desperation.

And I wonder, was there something I could have done to protect them? To shield them from this pain?

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As long as it takes…

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Oklahoma teachers have walked off the job. And (literally for some) walked to the state capital to demand adequate funding for Oklahoma’s future.

My kids have been out of school for 7 days. 7 long, long days.

They say they are loving this extra time off. The reality?

They are bored to tears (why oh why don’t I live on a hobby farm where they would have actual work to do). They miss their friends. They miss the routine.

They miss school.

And they are not the only ones.

Over the last week+, we have had (a million) kids over. Every single kid has talked about the walkout. Every single kid has said that it (the walkout) is necessary.

Every single kid has stated that they want to be back in the classroom.

Those that are 18 (or will be soon) have talked about how ready they are to vote: For change.

The younger ones worried out loud, if their favorite teachers will return, or if they will leave the state, or the profession.

The kids who have come through my house are the lucky ones, they go to Edison. And it is a great school. With parents who have the resources to fill the gaping holes left by a state that has refused to invest in the future.

And this privilege is not lost on them. They see their friends, their cousins, their neighbors. They see what their school could be without this outside investment.

And their response is this:

I hope the teachers stay out as long as it takes to get what is needed to make it right for EVERYONE.

We can all learn from the children.

And this Oklahoma family will support Oklahoma educators for as long as it takes.

Gumbo, wine, and walkouts.

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I spent a couple hours with a friend this evening. Eating gumbo, drinking Chardonnay, talking.

She’s a teacher here in Tulsa. She teaches “on level” math courses. “On level” is code for the tough kids. Kids that struggle a bit in school, kids who might not have a supportive home, kids that often go hungry.

She’s a damn good teacher. One of the best I have ever seen. She pushes her students. She calls them on their crap. And they love her. More importantly, they learn from her.

It sucks that my “advanced” kids never got to have her as a teacher.

(But I get to call her friend, so that’s pretty cool)

We talked about parenting (it’s hard, and awesome).

We talked about husbands (both gone too much, and we love them lots)

We talked about the Oklahoma Teachers Walkout.

She has more students than she has textbooks. She has more students than she has chairs in her classroom. Each year she has more students added to her roster than she had the year before. (with no additional textbooks or chairs)

And all she wants is to get back into her classroom. With a textbook and a desk for every student.

This does not seem like too much to ask.

Those were magical years…

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I spent some time tonight texting with my friend, Lisa.

Lisa lives in Anchorage and is one of those I hold closest to my heart.

We talked about parenting. And how sometimes it really, truly, sucks.

And we talked about the good times.

Oh, dear Lord in Heaven, there were some good times.

Those years in Anchorage, there was a village. Myrna, Kristine, Lee, Lisa, Sarah, Suzi, Silke …(ok, there were dads too, but I am focusing on the mamas)

We parented as a collective, a village.

On any given day some house was home to any number of kids. If one of us needed something, another one answered the call.

Our kids were not friends. They were family.

I remember one kid, saying about another kid: “oh, yeah, he/she is a little odd, but it’s all good, because we are, essentially, cousins. So we have to love each other”.

Thank the Good Lord above, they may have been talking about any one of mine.

We carpooled. We played together. We shared meals.

And sooooooo much more.

In sickness we fed each other.

In hardship we held each other.

In triumph we celebrated each other.

Through it all we loved each other.

And do to this day.

These women set the standard for friendship. It’s a high one.

My prayer is I live up and that I give my kids the tools to find their village when the time comes.

The time is NOW…

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Oklahoma teachers are poised to strike.

A full-on statewide shut down the schools and take it to the capital strike.

The time is NOW

Oklahoma teachers are among the lowest paid in the country. They have not had a raise in a decade. Kids with high school diplomas make more working at our local convenience store chain than our teachers with college degrees and many years of experience make shaping our nation’s future.

(Full disclosure, I love that Quik Trip pays well, I think it is fantastic. Because, as a freaky liberal hippie, I kind of think a living wage is awesome).

Back to teachers.

There are so many reasons why Oklahoma teachers are paid nothing.

Blame it on oil. Blame it on big business. Blame it on conservatives. Blame it on liberals. There is plenty to go around.

I think it is deeper than that. Bigger than a political party, bigger than any corporation.

And much much smaller.

I KNOW I deserve the blame.

I believe YOU deserve the blame, too.

How many times have I/You heard(or uttered) some variation of the following:

“You don’t need to be a teacher. You could do so much more”. “There is no money in teaching”. “What about engineering?”

Really? More than molding the future?

Yep. There is NO money in teaching.

Sure. Engineers are pretty cool.

I am a strong believer that we need a societal shift. One that measures success not by dollars. But by joy. By a sense of worth.

Only when we stop saying “oh, you want to teach English to high schoolers? But you could make so much more money if you were a college professor”

Only when we stop saying “why would you be a nurse when you could be a doctor? You could make so much more money…”

Only when we stop saying “you are a science/math/technology teacher? Why didn’t you get an engineering degree? You could make so much more money…”

Only when we say “oh, you want to be a teacher!?!? Thank God! How can we make possible to live your passion?”

So, Oklahoma.

Fund our schools.

Pay our teachers.

THE TIME IS NOW.

Grown, growing up…

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It’s all bad.

It’s all wonderful.

Kjell is home for a little bit. And I am over the moon. I love love love having all my chicks in the nest.

This afternoon, as we drove to Houston to spend the weekend with Dave, it hit me hard.

This might not happen again.

It won’t be long before Kjell is done with his first round of schooling. And then he is off. Whether he chooses to sail commercial or go active duty, he won’t have spring/winter/summer break. He will have a job. A career. He is right on the edge of his adult life. And what a life it is shaping up to be.

And it won’t be long before Broder heads off to college. He will still have spring/winter/summer break, for a few years, but the carefree days of high school are almost over. He is stepping into his future, the hard work of pursuing his passion is just about to start.

All I want is to stop time.

To keep them here with me forever.

All I can do is support them as they go.

Today I let him…

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Cry cancer.

Over the last several weeks (months), Broder has been applying to colleges, and vying for scholarships.

His test scores are more than good.

His grades are rather impressive.

He volunteers. He is an athlete.

And it is NOT ENOUGH.

So, yeah, I said it: play the cancer card.

Yes, I know he is healthy.

Yes, I know he is physically strong.

Yes, I know he is emotionally stable.

And getting to this place has been hard work.

And staying in this place is not a given.

So he writes these essays.

And he talks about what his dreams were. And how those dreams were stolen from him.

He goes on to say that letting go of those dreams was incredibly painful.

He talks about how finding new dreams has been so unbelievably amazing.

My heart breaks for him.

I am so incredibly proud of him.

And I pray that someone on the committee sees that he is speaking from his heart.