gillis and her big mouth

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Month: December, 2014

Spankin’ Holiday Greetings 2015

December 2014

Dear Friends:

The holiday season has its fuzzy, feel-good claws in us once again and we’re left to decide whether we want to embrace it back or inoculate ourselves against its clutches. I tend to play both sides of the net on this one. I love the schmaltzy pathos of the music and movies and I try to find gifts that will amuse, enlighten, or at least not offend. On the other hand, I have yet to make it from Thanksgiving to New Year’s without at least one major meltdown where I’m left wondering why giftwrap and vodka can’t just get along. If you are like I am, and I know you’re not but just humor me here, things start out all sorts of shiny and bubbly and end up nesting on the couch binging on processed carbohydrates. Seriously, who can stay perky through all of it?

Looking back on 2014, we here in the Gillis-Luf household have many things to be thankful for, not the least of which is that August is now in kindergarten. He loves it. He has mastered the cubby, the glue stick and is just short of the proficient range with the crayon. Recess is his favorite subject. We see great things in his future. We will probably have to use a psychic medium if we really want to see those great things since we will be in our 60s before he graduates high school. Just last week we battled for a parking space to attend his first winter concert and were treated to the “cats in a bag” sound of elementary school singers followed by that one kid who sang everything just a little too loudly and a little too quickly to match the rest of the chorus. August was that kid.

We have a newly minted teenager in the house as well. Greta is in 7th grade and so far she’s taking the teen angst thing slowly while trying to keep us current with pop music and youtube videos. We are now her support staff, with our primary function to deliver her to various activities – including sports, music, student council, and dance. She’s wearing braces now and we regularly annoy her by eating things she can longer eat just to get back at her for having a much richer social life than we’ve seen in decades. It keeps us in check to remember that she will be responsible for choosing our nursing home someday. At least we are hoping she will be the one to make the final decision if and when the time comes. If #2 chooses for us, we’ll likely be camped out at the Lebanon Valley Speedway in an RV with a generator running our oxygen tanks during our golden years.

Our home improvement list continues to grow exponentially. In reality, it’s probably more of a home stabilization list since we’re not quite at the improvement phase yet. We will never run of things to work on here. While others are downsizing in a few years, we’ll still be working hard to keep the walls from crumbling down around our feet. Fun, right? All those softies who plan for the future wisely and retire in comfort are going to envy us our projects in the years to come. We will never have the luxury of boredom. Ever again.

Here’s hoping 2015 is a joy-filled year for you and yours. Happy holidays!

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You Can’t Kill the Dog

I could be enjoying a quiet lunch right now. Eating my thoughtfully composed salad in peace. Maybe reading an article or a few pages of a book. I could even be eating with a few colleagues in a nicer space. We could converse about grown up things together. Instead I am at my cluttered desk, juggling my lunch and mounds of uncorrected papers while a cluster of students buzz around the space. They are stealing one another’s lunch items and roaming around the room. I continue to nudge them back to their desks, their laptops, their notebooks. They’ve established their stories and have little need for my input. They bounce back and forth between working and chatting. I sit here at the desk, chewing quietly and listening to their conversations…

“We have to kill him.”
“Who? The dog? You can’t kill the dog.”
“We have to kill the dog. He’s the antagonist!”
“Besides, it’s a chihuahua.”
“A TEAcup chihuahua…”
“It’s still a dog…”

“Well, duh, it’s a magical shed and when they go into it, it’s huge and it becomes another dimension.”

“You’ve spelled it wrong, it’s not Mahaaaa, it’s supposed to Mwah hahahahaa..”

“I just wrote an amazing sentence ‘They stood in the distance, looking into the cemetery, staring at the crows on the scarecrow.’…well maybe it’s not that amazing after all.”

“We need to get them out of this video and into the fight, so get them out of watching the video.”

“They are Turkish names. The wolves live in Turkey.”

“I think she’s deleting everything.”

“I’m the only one not doing chapters.”
“You’re not doing chapters?”
“Why aren’t you doing chapters?”
“I’m just not doing chapters.”

“Which is funnier, Crazy Carly or Crazy Ruby?”

“What is the name of our story again?”
“Wild.”
“Oh, that’s right.”

It continues on like this with students dropping in and out of conversations. Typing and writing happens, or doesn’t. I am fly on the wall, listening in on these chats. The kids have formed their own writers’ group in here, supporting and encouraging one another. Pushing back when things don’t work. They are their own audience. Their purpose is to engage one another. I chew my salad.