A Little of This…A Lot of That..

My husband noticed I haven’t blogged in several days. This reminder almost (but not quite) felt like a boss nudging me to get a job done. There’s been a lot of this and that going on. Doug was away on business in China for 11 days. These long absences give me outrageous respect for single parents. While there is just one son to shuttle around and oversee, there are always days when extra hands would help. Those days got in the way of blogging.

Spring semester at Rutgers got underway last week. I now have 42 kids..I mean students. Unlike last semester, I don’t have single parents or students who have children in this class. I do continue to have students who are working their way through school; some have two jobs; a few are helping support their families; about 15% are from other countries. I did a great thing. I decided there was no way I would ever remember 42 names. I made terrific name plate for each student in a large font. They keep the name plate with them and put it on display for each class. It’s amazing how I am getting to know their names. It’s really fun sharing experiences with the class. They are starting to come out of their shell and realize that I really am there to help them..not lecture to them. The students who stand-out (in a good way) always show themselves first. Their hands go up answering questions or making comments and they seem to stay alert for the hour and twenty-minute class. Now, I have to work on reaching the ones who seem to hunker down in their seat and hide.

Their first writing assignment was to introduce themselves to me and explain how the course will help them. I really enjoy reading their pieces. There are students who have rarely written before. One student talked about his job on a road work construction crew. He mentioned the swearing goes on as part of the “business communication.” Such a hoot. Several students wrote about working toward their degree so they can begin their career in their family business. Other students wrote about their journey toward their education in the U.S. from another country. Fascinating to get just a glimpse of the stories

Joanne & Ryan - We'll miss you!

among 42 students.

The other journey beginning is of my friend Joanne and her son. She is a lieutenant colonel in the army and shipped out to a base in Germany this week. We went to their farewell party last weekend. Joanne is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. She is a Presbyterian minister, the head chaplain at Ancora State Hospital where the most deranged, criminal mental patients are housed. She is a single mom with two teenaged sons. She’s served two tours in Iraq; in her earlier life she was a champion swimmer; she counsels grieving families and listens to the family problems of soldiers and their families. Joannedoes all this with a personality and demeanor that is always bright and happy. She is so loved and respected, it fills me with joy that she is part of my life in some small way. I will truly miss seeing her face over the next 18 months.

My son is preparing for his first semi-formal event. The sophomore cotillion takes place soon. The three of us went to get him a suit, shirt, tie, shoes – the whole package. As I watched the salesman measure Adam for the suit and then the shirt size, I did get a little weepy remembering buying his first pair of sneakers when he could barely walk. WHY we spent $36 for those shoes still boggles my mind today. Now, we hope the nearly $200 we spent on his entire ensemble will fit him for more than a week. The gal he is going with to the cotillion is a friend from church. She asked him. Sweet. He’s also found out that another girl wanted him to ask her to the dance. He’s learned, it’s nice to be wanted.He also took the written NJ driver’s test at school today. He says it was easy. Just wait until he gets behind the wheel. Brace yourself!

As we face another winter chill, I’ll work on trying to keep my posts more current. So much to do; so little time – and that time is so very precious.

Deer in Headlights

You know the expression: “She just looked like a deer in headlights when the food started burning.” Now, I know where the expression came from – Route 70 in South Jersey. Every Tuesday since September last year, I’ve been making a weekly run out to Ocean County for a meeting with a client. It’s a straight shot from Cherry Hill out Route 70 – 50 minutes to one meeting site; about 47 miles to the other site, depending on where they call the meeting that week. After Medford, Route 70 becomes the main road through the New Jersey Pinelands. There are homes and some businesses, but it’s mostly rural South Jersey along the road. In the nearly two dozen Tuesdays I’ve made the drive to and from Ocean County, I have ALWAYS seen a dead deer on the side of the road; sometimes two dead deer. Today, it seemed like a dead animal zoo – first a skunk, then the deer and I believe a raccoon- all within about a half mile. I try not to look. I remember playing Bambi’s mom in the second grade and singing my first solo wearing my paper bag ears and tail my mom made for me. When the deer runs out into the road, likely in the dead of night, at dusk or pre-dawn, the deer freezes in the roadway; the deer doesn’t know which way to go to get out-of-the-way. In that split second- it’s over.

I can’t help but feel sad when I see that carcass wondering how long it’s been there; did the animal suffer if it wasn’t killed instantly. Today, there was blood. Bambi’s mom – worrying about the young. Then I bounce back remembering just a few weeks ago as we drove up Roosevelt Boulevard out of Northeast Philadelphia and into Bucks County, when I saw a herd of deer prancing about 25-40 yards off the roadway into the woods near the Pennypack Nature Center. It was the Saturday of the snowstorm weekend, so the deer were really looking majestic in the snowfall. It was amazing that so close to a multi-lane highway and not far from buildings and homes, these six or seven deer, knew their boundaries. I’m sure there’s the occasional Bambi or Bambi’s mom or dad prancing out into traffic and losing the race across the boulevard, but I will always remember those deer prancing through the snowfall and NOT being deer in headlights.