Katie's Jump Roping for Heart!

Katie loves this day, (JUMP ROPE FOR HEART!) and has been asking and asking her delinquent Mom to post information about this for at least a week...I told her that since this year we have a big fundraising job (fundraising for both Mom and Dad to do the 3-day...yikes), we wouldn't be pushing a big campaign.

A special anniversary changed my mind.

Coincidentally, today Emma is the exact age that my sister Amy was when our Mom died. At around 11am today, I will be breathing a huge sigh of relief that I am still alive to mother Emma...and then I will start down the countdown to the day when Katie is the exact age that Julie was when our Mom died. (8 years, 5 months, and 16 days...on September 18th of this year Katie will be that age.) I've been hoping and praying to mother my children past all of these special anniversaries, and then to go on mothering into the new frontier (what would it be like to mother, or have a mother, past the age of 12 years, 5 months, and 12 days?). I can't wait to find out!

And so...

Jump Rope for Heart! In Memory of Grandma Cathi


The EC is on the front page of the Eagle

With a little bit of a lie, by the way...
The district will not really be saving $200,000 if they cut the 2.5 instructors at the EC...because:
  1. The only full-time instructor is at the top of the pay scale...and has tenure. She'll just move to an elementary school and bump out some other wonderful teacher at an opening salary. So whatever her salary minus the new teacher's salary is what they will be saving...not her whole salary.
  2. The other 3 people are part-time parapros...
  3. I am certain there are other ways for the Environmental Center to make money and help pay for itself...and I feel it should. These cute little fundraisers are only the teeniest part of what I think we could do for this little Environmental Center. If it weren't so hard to reach these stupid board members, I'd be telling them this myself.
Anyway, I am not falling off the deep end with the EC, kids. I do really like it (as I like any marginally run-down piece of property - note my house). It has so much potential. I'd hate for something so close to my house and my children's school to become a run-down eyesore. AND, I have a growing passion to teach other children (not my own, they are already sick of me and my passions...I need to find a new audience) to love the environment and gardening, etc.

Plus, it is fun to have a project.

However, I may just have too many, says the woman who just came back from Girl Scout Training, the woman who just applied for a fun part-time job, and the woman who is getting ready to teach her three young ones how to ski. (Other projects of late: cleaning up the rancid sewage problem in my basement, reforming my Irish Setter who has a death wish - she wants to be killed by my rage, volunteering my ass off at schools, trying to get into shape again - because I eat too much chocolate to make my ass really go anywhere, and making ridiculously wonderful fabric gift bags for no discernible reason at all.)

Buy plants AND Support the BEC...it's a win-win situation!

Here's a great fundraiser to help the BPS Environmental Center...hosted by Flower Power fundraising. I'm going to start some shopping right this minute...please check it out!

The prices seem reasonable, and the BEC will earn 50% of your purchase.


My (selfish) next step! and later...why I am lucky

Here's my (selfish) next step in the Save the BPS EC campaign...to host a perennial exchange at the Environmental Center this spring!

It was my quiet and secret wish and goal to start a perennial exchange (and then, a garden club...or find a garden club, but I kind of wanted to start one as then I wouldn't have to go find one myself). I've been thinking of ways to get this started, and it seems like the EC would be a perfect place to host this. Plus, the timing of it (this spring) goes well with the goals of the Friends of the BPS EC committee - to spread the word about the EC. It goes well with MY goal for the BPS EC, too - to make it more community-friendly.

I got the OK from the leader of the Environmental Center today...now what?

As an aside, I think I am filling up my plate sufficiently these days. It's all SO GOOD for me, helping me to find my favorite things again, keeping me busy, keeping me around people (if you pick the right people, they can be so inspiring, so energizing, and so wonderful - they just help to pull the good right out).

I am SO GRATEFUL to friends, to family, to God...for sticking by me when I am so down, and confused about why I would even want to be alive, and antisocial, and suffering. I knew I would come out of my misery SOMETIME...I always do, but I am always afraid and nervous about what friends I might lose in the process of my misery. I seriously did lose high school friends during my college summer miseries...probably lost some college friends during my post-college miseries...lost some friends during my post-death-of-mom miseries way back, too. So I have been wondering, in the back of my mind, who I would lose during this post-death-of-my-dad-antisocial-behavior-period/misery. It was/is inevitable...I only have so much energy, and I have been trying so hard to just keep it together for my little family.

So if you are still here, and you don't hate me!, for whatever emails I didn't send, whatever phone call I didn't return, whatever thank you note I didn't send, whatever thing I messed up, whatever irresponsibility I was responsible for (!) - THANK YOU. I feel myself coming out, a bit, and if I still have you as a friend...I know I am lucky.


Saving the Environmental Center...

IF you are interested...here are some things YOU can do to help!
  • Send your child to camp during Winter or Spring Break at the Environmental Center! (This link takes you to the Community Ed webpage, where you can then click around and find out about the other days of the camp.) The thought is, if the camps fill, that is an indication that we have a resource here that is used and worth saving.
  • Pass on the word that the Environmental Center will be closing...chances are, people don't know that it actually is planned to close. The Environmental Center and the nature walks at the Environmental Center have been part of the good experiences had with Birmingham Public School children for generations...people will be sad to see it close and want to know about it.
  • Attend a board meeting. I'll be there! (It will be my first time, but I'll be there!)
  • March 23-24 are tentatively scheduled to be "Community Conversations" regarding the budget...plan to be there!
  • Have your child's class write letters to the school board, telling them to Save the Environmental Center! (I've already asked Katie's teacher...a good idea would be to have this become part of the Valentine's party this week!) Bring those letters to the next school board meeting!

Mrs. Lucken is contemplating a grass roots campaign

I'm contemplating a grass roots campaign to save/help the Birmingham Public Schools Environmental Center...which is something so clearly over my head, it's not even funny!

However, I love the Environmental Center, I see so much potential in it, and I'm crazy about anything green (meaning plant life, nature study, etc.). I really, really, really, so much, do not want to see it taken away from our school district and our community. I have not been totally engaged in the activities of the school board as they find ways to trim and cut and make the school district's budget leaner in these hard times, but I did find out that the plan for 2010-2011 is to cut the $200,000 environmental center program. (This cut is essentially the salaries of the teacher and her 3 parapros at the Environmental Center.)

So far today, I have spoken with Barbara Pepper, who is said teacher at the Environmental Center. She alerted me to the "Save the Environmental Center" blog someone set up (don't be fooled, it's only maybe one person behind this campaign so far...so I can tell they need me, even if I have no skills in managing grass roots campaigns). She mentioned there is an email address, as well: savethebec@gmail.com. By emailing that website, I'll be able to get some "talking points" to use when I go to the board meeting at the end of this month (what? Me talking at a board meeting? Yikes.).

I've also spoken to my cohort in all of this (didn't know that you were, did you?)...and we are brainstorming.

If any of my faithful readers have any interest in working on this little campaign, email me! I don't know what it will entail. I have no idea what I need to do to turn the Environmental Center into something that is truly fancy and a wonderful asset for our community and our school district...but that is a dream I've had for awhile. So stay tuned for more info from this crazy woman and her crazy dream.


new things on the horizon

Dear Dad,
Don't worry, I'm not always as morbid as I was yesterday...but it is good to be morbid once in awhile - or to at least have a moment to think about what I have lost, what I miss, what I wish I had. It opens up the flow of emotions and then I can think of what I have, what I can look forward to/work for, and what fun there still is to be had.

I am also very thankful for the burst of sunshine that came through the clouds just as I was finishing up yesterday's post! (LITERAL sunshine, as well as figurative!)

Yes, there is much to be thankful for - and top of the list is my family (the family that I still have). I could never have imagined my sister living down the street and offering to watch my little Nathan as she does! I could never have imagined that I would spend hours a day on the phone with my other dear sister...and then, I could never have imagined the wonderful relationships my little ones have with my own aunts. Yesterday, I was surprised to see my Aunt Perry, stopping by my house with 4 WHOLE BAGS of canned goods to donate to the needy...after Emma emailed the family to ask for help with a canned food drive at school. Emma was JUMPING around the house, squealing and saying, "I have the best aunts!"

So see, there are relationships to cherish, and relationships to form, and cement.

I know we'll be ok, soon. Spring is coming (figuratively, and literally - the garden will be restored to me)!



This is why we didn't talk about it...

Dear Dad,
Today I was dusting rather compulsively, albeit quickly, and I accidentally knocked down a folder on my bookshelf. Out fell cards, and pictures, and pages upon pages of memories people had shared with us over the first few days after your passing. Though I have not much time to clean my shambles of a house before Nathan's friends and moms arrive, I took a few moments to read, and now, a few moments to write to you.

I was so angry immediately following your death, dear Dad, that I didn't fully appreciate your career, or the impact you made on this region and the world during your time here on Earth. I was SO angry, feeling that you had chosen to spend the precious time that you had with your career instead of with us. Now that I look back, I realize I shouldn't have been angry with you...you did spend time with us. You did put your family first, if we ever needed you. No, we did not get that time together that I was wishing for, and hoping for, and praying for, and waiting for - time to talk about your life, your wishes, your hopes, your prayers. We didn't get the chance for you to spend some good - or great - days out on the boat that summer, watching Emma jump off the side (and probably Katie and Nathan now, too), watching Natalie and Noah take their first boat rides with their Bubba, and watching darling Matthew with his precious, precious smile take more rides, showing the rest of them how to do it. It wasn't your fault, though, that we didn't get these moments - it was your stupid cancer's fault.

I remember how upset I was that you didn't want to talk, during that last week or two, and now I am sorry that I was ever upset with you about it. I always realized that you were in pain (maybe didn't know how much), and busy dying (I realized that was where you were headed, I just didn't know how soon)...but I couldn't understand how the emotions involved with what you were going through just wouldn't come out. How, knowing in your head that things didn't look good, you just couldn't or wouldn't talk about it.

I think I know now, Dad.

Looking back, I think you probably knew exactly where we were headed, as a family...down the road of loss, and misery, and sadness, and grey days that don't end. You probably could not bear to even think about it, much less talk about it. Whereas I was saying to the rest of us, "we can do this...we'll have the rest of our lives to put ourselves back together, we just have to help Dad now and worry about ourselves later"...you remembered how hard that is.

I was only 12 when we lost mom...and when we lost Grandpa and Grandma and Uncle Mike in those few years before her, they weren't my parents and my brother. Only you knew our road ahead - young parents, with no parents of our own to guide us, or love us, or share these memories of parenthood with us, and no time to even cry (without freaking out the children), or stay in bed for months, or go crazy and sell everything and travel the world like nomads until we find our joy again. We have other people to be responsible to now, others to love while we still carry this heavy, miserable grey load around day after day.

It is horrible, Dad, but you knew it would be...I'm sure of that. I didn't know it would be so horrible - the loss, the memories, the missing parts of myself (you and Mom), and so much, watching my children grow up without you. How much I would love to tell you, and Mom (not just talking to myself, like now) about Emma! How she loves her family, your family - your brothers, your sisters-in-law, your nephews, your niece...how she counts on them and thinks of them and they make her feel safe and proud of herself. I wish I could talk to Mom about my little middle child - the shining star who sparkles and then just as easily explodes...so much emotion and creativity and intelligence in that skinny little body. And Nathan...he is a boy you could really love - he's funny, like you, and crazy, and smart, and can make anyone laugh.

But you, of all people, would know the burden this is...the joy that my children loved you is now my misery that they miss you, my worries that the loss of you is too hard for them, my concern that I won't be able to keep it all together well enough so that I can raise them properly during these precious years.

And believe me, I am now probably happy that I didn't know HOW MUCH sadness was coming my way. It's a different kind of loss, and grieving, when you are 36, with no parents, with young children of your own. It's not at all fun.

So, Dad, it's ok that we didn't talk about it.

Your daughter always,


A picture of bag city

This is from 2007...thinking back, maybe I did get a chance to make a few bags between that Christmas and the Christmas of 2009, because I think I had a few more bags under the tree. (The wrapped presents are from Santa...he doesn't have access to my bags.)

Don't you see how cute they are? Ha ha, crazy city over here.