Tuesday, December 20, 2011

butterscotch schnapps

The past few nights, the Leiker family household has been enjoying classic black and white holiday movies: Holiday Inn and It's a Wonderful Life. This added to the "By Kansas standards Blizzard, by Colorado standards A lot of Snow" conditions outside, it definitely has helped the Christmas warm and fuzzy feelings. We woke up this morning to major drifts outside, as in no-way-are-we-getting-out-of-our-driveway-for-the-next-few-days. I remember growing up and when we did have "major" snow storms, Mom would dress us up in our rag-tag of snow ski pants (hand me downs or Goodwill discoveries) and gleefully send us outside with strict instructions to find all the drifts (ie: I did not plan for this snow day and you girls being inside this house yelling and tearing at each other, is killing me. So, how about you try killing yourselves outside and give your mother some peace. OK? Great. Fabulous. GO!). The sad thing is, after 20 minutes of being outside, I was "over it" and the snow wasn't that cool. Besides, these were the few days that Mom would allow us to have hot chocolate (with Always Save MARSHMALLOWS) and I wanted my watered-down hot chocolate, darn it. Even if there was two inches of snow, she probably did still send us out. I can't communicate how much my sisters (specifically Mel and I) pushed each others buttons. My strong, strong mother. And to think, the girl doesn't drink or swear.

While I am positive there are mothers in Southeast Colorado who are lively cursing the snow and looking for their bottles of Merlot wine, because their kids are at each others throats, I am enjoying the peace and quiet of the slow drips of water melting off our roof. The twinkle of the Christmas lights (and actively dreading the electric bill for this month, since my husband believes that Christmas without lights on the inside and outside is sacrilegious) and the efforts of our neighbor and his 4960 to move the snow from County Road JJ are the only things going on in our lives today. We'll probably venture outside and try to sled with our laundry baskets, but since I don't have my rag-tag ski pants and gloves, my clothes will get drenched and I'll be "over it" in 20 minutes. I could wrap my remaining Christmas gifts (for my nephew and Aaron) or repaint my nails. But before that, I need to make sure I have enough scotch tape, since my form of wrapping is 90% scotch tape and 10% misjudging the wrapping paper scissor lines. Which is why I am ecstatic that my husband loves wrapping, as in he wishes I'd let him blow our budget on bows and ribbons.

So on this day of avoiding cabin fever, I am hoping that our car is able to maneuver a way out before Christmas in Kansas and that we do not run out of butterscotch schnapps. Hmmm, maybe THAT was why Mom wanted us out of the house on snow days: butterscotch schnapps. Smart woman.

Friday, December 16, 2011

is it all about the benjamins, baby?

I love to read and always have. Growing up, it was the Baby Sitters Club, Sweet Valley High, Boxcar Children (I never did quite grasp that possibility that these kids were homeless in a boxcar and didn't turn out in juvenile lock up), Mary Higgins Clark, Nancy Drew, and various other authors. If you ask me today "What sort of books do you ready?" I'd answer historical fiction. I do not like "fluff" books, anymore (Sorry twins Elizabeth and Jessica ie: Sweet Valley High) and will never ever read Twilight or Harry Potter. And absolutely "No" to anything science fiction or books whose plots are no way believable. I feel that reading is a past time that todays generation is missing out on, sorely. Reading improves comprehension and your general knowledge of words that are not common. You'd be amazed at how horrible reading comprehension is with todays kids. When I am reading a book, I get to leave small town America and am transferred to a different time and place. It's a whole new world (ignore the urge to start singing Disney show tunes).

The book I am reading now is by Tom Brokaw "The Greatest Generation" and it's a.ma.zing. Not only when you're reading it do you feel that you can hear his voice (again, a.ma.zing voice) reading to you, but the content is easy to follow. Brokaw sat down and had conversations with those young men and women who lived through WWII. These contributors had various backgrounds and callings during the War. Some were on the home front, while others were in the heat of battle. If you want a strong smack in the face as to what reality was for our grandparents, read this book. You want to feel like a schmuck for getting upset when your credit cards are taken away (thank you Daddy, 5 years ago) or anytime that you whined about a little w o r k, enjoy this book. A common theme found in a lot of the conversations with this men and women is a hesitation in the future of our country. I would argue that they were the greatest generation, hands down. However, when it comes to my generation and the one following, I share their hesitation. 110% The bond of values and honesty have taken a back seat to loss of morals and lying to get by. "How will I benefit from this? How much money can I make? What is the bare minimum that I can do to get by?" Disgusting. Embarrassing. And sadly, becoming the norm.

The point of this post is not to bash and insult my generation and the following one. I know there are issues with the kids now and perhaps we're all to blame for this lax sense of responsibility that we are letting them benefit from. When I was at K-State, I tried to install some sort of accountability with my students and many times, that "meanness" was met with dismay from the Deans Office, as all it took was a kids parent to call and complain and the situation, even when the blame was the precious childs, was absolved. The second, the very moment, we allow money to dictate our ethics and morals, we have already lost in the race.

I was facing a debate between money and happiness these past few weeks. I could take option A and have a steady income flowing in for Aaron and I; what was left from our debts would be dealt with before harvest. However, option A would take me from the schools here, which has been a strong source of happiness for me since moving. I adore these kids. I see the unbelievable potential they house in their futures and how it just takes a little care and commitment for it to shine. Option B would keep me with the students and Holly, but not making as much money. However, I'd be closer to home and my community. My community. The community that I am invested in.

No, we're not the greatest generation. And God forbid we are attacked the way the Japanese attacked that day in December. However, if we all took the time to give back to our communities and not worry about the bottom line in our checkbooks, could we have this next generation be a great generation? Put your money where your mouth is.

I chose Option B. It's my way of giving back to a community that will give me and my family a solid foundation. And I can teach College Psychology to a great group of kids that have no idea what they're in for. And to be honest, neither do I.

God bless America. Let's earn it.