Category Archives: #yourturnchallenge

Will You Die in Quicksand today?

I was a sheltered child.

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I carried an umbrella inside a lean-to, within a bomb shelter, surrounded by a castle fortress, guarded by a moat filled with ravenous alligators, and I had the Sword of the Lord by my side.

I was carefully sheltered from racy television shows such as Happy Days and the Dick van Dyke show. Of course, we watched Emergency! religiously every week so my off-the-charts fear levels were amped up every week, 500cc of wringers lactate notwithstanding.  It is a wonder I made it out of childhood intact in any way, shape, or form.

The natural world was also presented as a terrifying place. Fish bones could easily choke and kill you. Creeks contain holes you can inadvertently step in and instantly drown. And everybody said there was quicksand in the creek next to my house.

(Apparently the 60s was a decade when there was a popular tv trope wherein people would sink in quicksand. The more they struggled, the deeper they sank.)

In spite of all this sheltering, somehow, under my umbrella, in my lean-to, in the bomb shelter, in the fortress, behind the line of hungry hungry alligators, with Sword of the Lord at my side, I saw a depiction of this deadly quicksand on some tv movie.

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OMFG. Poor siouxsie.

Turns out, fish can be eaten fairly easily without causing death. Holes in creeks are almost never large enough or deep enough to swallow you whole and kill you. Happy Days and the Dick van Dyke show weren’t quite as bad as I was led to believe, and quicksand? I laughed this morning when I read about it on Wikipedia.

Quicksand’s not even dangerous.

30th Wedding Anniversary Today

How decidedly inconvenient. I’ve been anticipating today’s blog post, knowing it would probably flow easily because today is our  30th wedding anniversary and I thought this would be an easy post to write. But I’ve woken up in a low mood today. Arghh. So now what. 

I remember . . .

I, Susan, take you, Greg, to be my lawfully wedded husband,

I, Greg, take you, Susan, to be my lawfully wedded wife,

When my parents reached their 30th anniversary, all three of their daughters had been married for several years and they had a couple grandchildren. When Greg’s parents reached their 30th anniversary, both of their sons were married.

and I do promise and covenant, before God and these witnesses,

Long marriages seem to be a relic of the past these days. Who do you know who has been married that long? Maybe your grandparents? 

to be your loving and faithful wife,

to be your loving and faithful husband,

We may be relics of an earlier time, but we are still smack in the middle of the hair-raising adventures of parenting. As a matter of fact, we’re not heading off to the airport today to go on a celebratory trip to Hawaii or Paris today. No, we have a family counseling appointment to further deal with the fallout of what drug addiction has done and continues to do to our family. And, while we’re off doing that, we’ll have a babysitter for one of our children. Just a little different than what our parents were up to by year 30.

in plenty and want, in joy and in sorrow,

John Lennon reportedly said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans” Life happens and we have the decided privilege of saying yes to what is. I don’t presume to speak for people who are in poverty or tragic conditions. But we are in neither. We do have the privilege and opportunity to say yes because the School of Life knows exactly what lessons we are ready for.

in sickness and in health,

It’s been quite a journey, from the hallowed halls of Wheaton College, to the Northwoods of Wisconsin and the shores of Lake Superior, to the beautiful Land Down Under and the humble shores of the Ohio River. Along the way, we’ve produced five marvelous children (if we do say so ourselves), we’ve laughed and cried a LOT, and have learned more than we would have ever guessed. Marriage is not easy. Heck, life is not easy. But, time after time, we have taken the road less travelled. Sometimes we stood at the fork in the road and pondered for a long time before we chose. But we did. We chose ourselves, our vows, each other, life.

as long as we both shall live. 

My Humble Questions about Public Education

Non-Humble Beginnings with Public Education

With threee small children and a fourth on the way in 1998, we chose to send our eldest to public kindergarten, even though we ultimately intended to homeschool. As I have mentioned elsewhere, my know-it-all score was off the charts back then, which explains my righteous indignation as well as deep consternation when the kindergarten teacher told me she couldn’t work with Valerie and her advanced reading skills lest Val be “bored” next year at school.

The next 16 years saw every combination of schooling known to man, save boarding school, and I surely wished that had been an option a few times.

Changing my Mind about Public Education

When Kepler was born in 2006, it wasn’t long before I realized that the public school system was going to be able to give him a whole host of things I wouldn’t be able to provide. So in spite of Mary Hood’s “seminal” tome, Onto the Yellow School Bus and Through the Gates of Hell, (real title), we sent Kepler off to pre-school two days after his third birthday. Public school and Kepler are so far a match made in heaven.

Meanwhile, the “fourth on the way” grew from a bean to a young woman on the cusp of getting her drivers license and we decided that public high school would be a great adventure for this young thespian and musician.

But What About High School

Now into her second semester, here is my main question.

What is the value of these four classes she is taking, in the way they are being taught? History, English, Geometry, Biology. There is obvious value from a liberal arts point of view and I wholeheartedly support her education in these areas.

But the reality is that the geometry teacher reviews the problems for one particular worksheet for five straight 90-minute classes but does not teach geometry?

More than one of the teachers provide class time for homework, as well as overnight or over several nights, plus additional class time for an assignment that can easily be completed in the first class period.

Thus My Humble Questions

I’m certain that these teachers have twenty times the experience I have, but I am struggling to come up with how to encourage my child to care about her schoolwork when the pace seems glacial, homework is most often checked for completeness only so there is rampant cheating/copying, and my student is not enthusiastic about STEM classes anyway.

I often overlook the obvious, so the answer may be staring me in the face, but teachers, if you do not seem to care about inspiring your students, what are you hoping will inspire them?

Exclamation Points Then and Now

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Do you remember your grammar school lesson on types of sentences? Declarative, Exclamatory, Interrogative — those are the three I remember. Differentiated in part by their closing punctuation mark. Ah, it was simple then. A few rules, easy peasy.

Over the years, I have noticed myself using more and more exclamation points in my electronic communication, especially in texting. The other day, my daughter remarked completely as an aside, “You don’t even need the exclamation point.” Just like that, I had a serendipitous realization that I had begun to rely on the use of exclamation points to communicate the upbeat feeling of my text. Truly, I was the frog in the cold water of regular punctuation who didn’t even realize I had been gradually boiling in the scalding water of overuse.

Turns out, this is a thing. Not just with me, but people in general have begun to rely on the exclamation point to communicate enthusiasm in e-communications. That’s fine, if your sentence is “I could not believe what Felicia Sue wore to Esmeralda Ann’s wedding!” But, we have begun to use it at the end of sentences like, “Thanks for your note!” and “I got your email!”

Seems that some regard the lack of exclamation points in e-communication to be communicating brusqueness. Until my daughter’s text this week, I certainly did. And where I didn’t put a (!), I added a smiley emoji.

I’ve quit cold turkey. And so far, no one has expressed their concern that I am being brusque. Of course, I also replaced the exclamation points with adverbs, adjectives and carefully chosen words that communicate a little more subtly.

Do you overuse exclamation points? Well, do you?!

Baymax is the Gold Standard for Customer Service

I’ve been down with a respiratory infection for a couple of days. While I lay in bed yesterday, practicing “accepting what is” I was also thinking about what I might post about today. Big Hero 6 popped into my head because Kepler is all about Baymax these days, which put me in mind of patient care, which reminded me of …

Customer Service. The very phrase can bring about heart palpitations from frustration, anger, and irritation. As good as some CSRs can be, anyone who calls Customer Service will usually need extra patience and understanding, as well as a willingness to tell the same story to multiple people.

My most frequent customer service interactions are with the good people at Verizon, and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. They, and several others, usually finish their conversation with a yes/no question: “Have I addressed your concerns completely today?”

I always say yes, even if the answer is yesbutno or nobutyes. By the time this question arises, I’ve been on the phone for ages and am ready to bid them adieu.

But Baymax, the lovable nurse bot from Disney’s Big Hero 6, KNOWS how to give the best customer service. You can read more about Baymax’s story here. As a nurse bot, Baymax is equipped to diagnose and treat the conditions he encounters in his patients.

Among the many things that I love about Baymax is his penultimate statement to each patient: “I cannot deactivate until you say you are satisfied with your care.”

That’s what Verizon, and Anthem, and Time Warner, and the IRS, should say. “I cannot disconnect from this call until you say you are satisfied with your experience on this call.” It’s kind of similar to someone saying, “I’m sorry for all the hassle on this call; will you forgive me?” and responding with, “I forgive you.”

Like Don Henley says in his song The Heart of the Matter, it all comes down to forgiveness, letting them off the hook. And rather than carrying my frustration from the call into the next portion of my day, I’m going to accept the imperfections of the system, and move forward in peace.