(This is the only picture I could find right now. This was waayyy back...circa 1979)
This is one of those blog entries that is kind of hard for me to write. I have a deep, deep love for my sister Donna. I like her too (otherwise, she wouldn't be on this blog right?) Let me tell you about her:
Donna was 15 years old when I was born. She was like a second mother to me. She often joked that she really WAS my mother and they had to send her away for a while because of the teenage pregnancy in a small town and all. I KNOW she was just joking but, in the back of my mind, I have that seed of doubt. She certainly treated me like a daughter. When I was growing up, it was like I was stapled to her. She took me everywhere. I even went on several dates with her when she was in High School.
I remember her sitting on the basement stairs with me and reading to me. We read every book we had. She fed me with books and instilled in me the love of reading that I still have to this day. She used the best voices and expression as she read to me on those steps.
Shortly after graduating, she moved from Canada to Rexburg, Idaho to attend college. There she met and married Doyle. She never came back to Canada and remained in the US to raise her family. All seven of her children.
From the time I was five years old until I was 14, I spent every single summer with her on her farm in Idaho. My parents would ship me off to play for two months at my sisters. She had me doing all kinds of things like cooking, cleaning, babysitting, delivering and selling Avon (I had a wicked banana seat bike that took me for miles on those country roads), making club houses, and helping with the water turns. In short, I was her summer slave. And I loved it. I looked forward to my encampment each year.
As I matured into an adult, our sibling relationship became a true friendship. I became a single-mother only three years after marriage. Donna was my biggest supporter as we were the only siblings living in the US. She took care of my girls when I had surgery, travelled for work, and just whenever I needed her. I took my girls to Idaho every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. We shopped like champions together. We played the Idaho lottery on every trip. Our highest winnings were $20 which we used to buy lunch that day. What memories and what fun.
Two months after I remarried, I was sitting on my bed putting a portfolio together for my husband. I received a call from my niece Jodi. She called to tell me that my sweet sister Donna had just been in a terrible car accident on I-15. A driver had entered the freeway on the wrong side and hit head on into Donna's car. She was killed instantly. Part of me died with her. It was devastating for everyone. But, we made it through. I gave her eulogy at the funeral. I wish I had space here to write the words I said. But, suffice it to say that I loved her.
Donna was a school bus driver who went all out and decorated it with every child's name (she even let me drive it once!). The children loved her. At the procession to the cemetery, each intersection in her small town had a school bus at the stop sign. It was very special. She would have loved it...although she wouldn't have liked all the attention.
In closing, I will just mention the things in my life now that will always and forever make me think of my dear sister whenever I see them:
•Scratch off Lottery tickets
•Slapstick carmel suckers
•Poetry at Easter
•Thanksgiving dressing left in the oven
•Lipstick with a perfectly pointed tip
•McCormick marshmellow strawberries
(I may have to add to this list from time to time)
By "my next door neighbor" I don't mean my house. I mean my next door neighbor at school. Her name is Mandi and she teaches first grade with me. I've taught with her for about five years. I liked her from the first day I met her.
In addition to being a teacher, I am the Literacy Coordinator in my school. That just means that I have the privilege of working with teachers in their classrooms and coaching them as to how they can improve their literacy teaching. When Mandi was an intern, I spent time in her classroom. She is the BEST teacher I have ever observed. Seriously. And, it was her first year of teaching. I was talking about Mandi one day to a coworker. I got a bit teared up as I expressed what a wonderful, loving teacher Mandi was.
I have learned a lot from her. She speaks softly to her students. Her students love her. She is an excellent teacher who knows which teaching is "best practice" for her students. She is just barely bigger than her first graders but her giant heart full of love makes up for her size.
Aside from her excellence in teaching, she is a great friend. She is fun, smart, adorable, and friendly to everyone. Her husband is cute too. I'm pretty sure that their new arrival (coming soon) will be absolutely adorable. And I have no doubt that Mandi will make an excellent mother.
I'm lucky to have Mandi as my next door neighbor. I like her a lot.
I absolutely loved this book. Perhaps it is the Canadian-living-in-the-states self talking here, but it made me long for my home in Southern Alberta. Growing up, my father was the maintenance supervisor for the schools in the area. This included the school at two or three of the Hutterite colonies in the area. He would often take me with him on his visits to the colonies. I loved it there and was mesmerized by every nuance of the colony. The baking bread, the chickens roaming free, the homes, the smells, the polka-dots, the braids. I loved going with him. My mother made trips as well. We would often go to purchase eggs, knitted booties and slippers, pick up newly upholstered furniture, and chickens. Every time, we were invited into someone's home to sit down for a visit. Secretly, I wanted to BE a Hutterite just so I could twist my hair back and put on a handkerchief. This book was a trip home for me and I adored it. Mary Ann Kirby is a gifted writer who was able to capture growing up on the colony and later outside of the colony in a way I will not soon forget. I can't wait to make the drive to Canada this summer and visit a colony.
Reading Right Now...
The Alloy of Law: The fourth book in the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. Something tells me it isn't going to have the same effect on me as the trilogy!
The Kitchen House
Just Finished Reading
Oh my goodness! I owe Jessica Romney a HUGE thank you for recommending this series. I was skeptical at first. But, am so glad I chose to give the Mistborn series a try. Brandon Sanderson is an amazing author. I am now open to a new genre...fantasy. This series though, had even more than fantasy. I felt some strong spiritual undertones throughout this particular (#3) book. I even got a little "misty" at the end. I loved these books. Thanks, Jessica. I owe you and will never question your recommendations again! :)
Also Just Finished Reading...
The author, Sue E. Peterson, is a friend of mine. She sent me this book shortly after the heartbreaking loss of my own husband. It had many wonderful points for me to consider as I read about death and making sense of a new/different life. I appreciated so much of what she said and the metaphors regarding "running" throughout the book. I've never read a book by an author I know (and know very well) personally. Nor, have I read a story based on a person I know and have had conversations with. It was an odd feeling in some respects. Reading different names for each character and each setting sort of messed with my brain a bit. Finally, I put that out of my mind and read with the purpose of gleaning insight about losing a spouse and recovery from grief. I have many turned down pages I'd like to revisit as a result. Thanks for the book, Sue!