Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Graduation Time

June 6, 2018

Well, my friends—it’s almost time.  The night where you get to celebrate all that you have achieved is just around the corner.  I am so proud of your accomplishments—some of you have worked very, very hard to make it to this night and have overcome personal, emotional, and academic hardships to earn that little piece of paper that can open up new avenues and opportunities for you.  Well done! You’ve made it!
              Graduation can be an emotional night.  Some of you might be a little nostalgic and sad about losing the comfort and familiarity of home, school, and family as you head off on to new adventures.  Some of you will be relieved that you actually made it.  Some of you may feel elation that you are done with the rules and dress code of high school.  (I’ll leave you to the fantasy that there are no rules you have to follow once you leave high school and your parents’ homes, at least for awhile.  You’ll find out the truth soon enough.)  Some of you might even feel anxious or nervous about what the future holds.  Most of you will feel proud of yourselves.  All of these emotions are real, valid, and totally normal.  Just know that while you are feeling all of these things, your parents are, too. Whether you are the first one in the family graduating, the middle child, or the baby of the family, please recognize that this is a milestone for your mamas and your daddies, too. They are thrilled, stressed, nostalgic, anxious, and hopeful, just like you are.  So when Dad wants to talk to you for the 30th time about how to be safe when you’re away at college, don’t just sigh and say, “I KNOW!”  He’s not just telling you he wants you to be safe; he’s telling you he loves you.  Let him.  When your mom wants you to smile for just one more picture (or 20), do it for her.  Do it with gratitude, and not eye-rolling, because when she says, “Say cheese!” she’s actually saying, “I am going to miss these times, these moments with you.”  Let her know that you hear what she’s saying, even when she’s not saying it.  Let her know you’ll miss those moments too.  This moment in time is yours, but it’s also theirs.  Share it and enjoy it together.
              So here you are, on the verge of your new adventure, with your family and friends surrounding you and cheering you on.  Some of these people you’ll be sitting in the stands with, you might remain friends with for the rest of your life.  Some of them you might see now and again, but you’ll eventually drift apart.  And for some of them, graduation night might be the last time you ever see them.  High school is like that, just like the rest of your life.  People will come in and out of your life, some only briefly, and some for long and enduring stretches of your journey.  Regardless, each person has an impact on those they encounter.  Be thankful for the mark your classmates have had on you; hope that you have been a blessing to those you have touched.  It’s really the most important life lesson, at the end of the day—one that isn’t found in a textbook or on a test.  Be a blessing to the people you encounter, whether it be for a day or for a lifetime.  Your life’s mission is to find the best way for you to do that.
              And speaking of life’s mission, you all have one.  I don’t know what your mission is, and maybe you don’t yet either.  That’s okay.  Just look for it.  Be mindful of it.  Find your passion and follow it—that’s a great place to start looking.  And when you do find your mission, make it your life’s work to meet it head on, with intention and care.  Seek positive mentors.  Be a positive mentor to those who follow behind you.  Look for ways to leave your world and the people you encounter better than they were when you first arrived.  Let that be your legacy and your mark.  Will you make mistakes and wrong turns?  Of course you will!  Will you learn and grow from them?  That, my friends, is entirely up to you.  I certainly hope so.  Mistakes do not define success; reaction to mistakes does.  How will you respond?

              So here I am, reflecting on the mark you have already made on me, as I think about all the ways you will move out into the rest of your tomorrows.  Know that all of you, from the most gregarious to the most introverted, have made my year a special one.  I always marvel that I have future businessmen, politicians, amazing stay-at-home moms and dads, teachers, mechanics, engineers, pastors, musicians, and farmers among my students.  It’s a privilege to get to teach students who will grow up and be the decision-makers of the future.  It’s the reason I keep teaching. YOU are the reason I keep teaching.  So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for another wonderful year.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.  Good luck, much love, and best wishes on all your future endeavors.

                                                                                                                   Mama Lutjens

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Designing New Promo Materials for Cut Shot

January 28, 2018

The boys are doing a lot more gigging these days, so I'm updating their social media, banners, and merchandise.  I did the original banners and t-shirts, but it's been a long time and I think it's time for a refresh.  I'm still pricing and looking at the design tools at a few sites, but this is the first look at a few designs we're kicking around for banners this time around.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

We're In the News Again

January 25, 2018

We started the day with an unplanned faculty meeting.  Our school's in the news again, and it's not good.  Our new principal has had to deal with a lot of negative press this year, and has had to put out a lot of fires.  Personally, I think he's doing a great job with communication and trying to stay ahead of the situations that affect us all.  He probably knew this was part of the job, at least intellectually so, but perhaps didn't plan on it being a non-stop barrage this year.  It isn't every year--this is just his lucky year.  Today's issue had to do with a negative op-ed published in the local paper about a couple of our former students who were accused of sexual assault at an off-campus party two years ago when they were minors.  Now that the boys are no longer minors (and no longer attend our school), there is a civil suit against them.  Since they are now adults, their names and details of the civil suit are being publicly released.  This is terrible; if the boys are guilty, then I fully support the consequences they reap.  However, the op-ed is calling out the school and the boys' coaches for not kicking them off of their team and out of school.  The frustrating thing is that the court cases of minors are often sealed, as was the case here.  The public, and the school administration, are not privy to the information in those sealed documents.  How can the school or district be called on to take action based on allegations when they do not have the jurisdiction to conduct the investigation or to be given a judge's final verdict? It's a difficult position schools are in when they are called upon to protect the privacy of students, are not given access to criminal cases for students in their charge, and are charged with protecting and supporting victims of those crimes.  As is often the case with these emotionally charged issues the op-ed chose details that were purposefully incendiary and pointedly left out other details--and it worked.  Our coaches and administrators are getting hateful mail and angry responses.  Our principal had to call our meeting in order to share with us what he is allowed to share legally, and that he and the district administrators are working with police in this current case, and that they are supporting the coaches who followed the protocols in place for the aspects of the case over which they had jurisdiction and knowledge.  I have seen numerous posts on social media, many of them reposted by former students and community members.  And while I understand the frustration about these allegations, I really don't think most people understand a lot of the parameters with which our administrators have to work--and that they don't always have all the information that people think they have in hindsight.  Are there mistakes?  Are there people who sometimes drop the ball in these cases? Sure.  But do I believe that at least in this case, there was an appropriate protocol followed with the knowledge the school and the coaches had.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Unexpected Visit to the Dentist

January 24, 2018

If you've ever had a bad experience at the dentist--I mean a horror movie torture device kind of bad experience, not your run-of-the-mill dentist experience--then you probably have an aversion to the dentist's office.  If you've had more than one excruciating, heart-pounding, sweat-inducing, nightmarish dental procedures, then you're like me, and a dental emergency can send you into a frightening emotional tailspin.  (Okay, no lie--my heart rate has gone up just typing these words!)

So I'm having a late night snack last night. (Don't judge--yes, I know that's not especially in keeping with my goal of losing weight, but just wait. Karma got me for it, so I guess that will teach me!)  I take a bite of a potato chip and CRACK! As I bit down I heard and felt my crown on one of my front teeth crack and break off.  Like it broke off a third of the crown.  It wasn't one of my very front top two, but it was one right next to those, so, you know, it's pretty prominent.  Luckily I didn't feel any pain, but I didn't want to stand up in front of my classes and teach all day with a third of one of my very visible teeth missing.  Knowing I'd have to go to the dentist to get it fixed pretty immediately sent me into the aforementioned tailspin, and I slept terribly all night.

As soon as I got to work this morning, I called my dentist VOLUNTARILY and asked to come in, and they said they could squeeze me in for an evaluation right after I got out of school.  (I was self-conscious about my tooth all day in class.)  The evaluation part was important, because I usually need to steel myself for a few days before an actual dental procedure, so I felt okay about going in. Once I got there and they examined the tooth and took x-rays, they said they'd need to take off the remainder of the crown, reset it, and order a new one.  They said they had the ability to do it right then, since I was there and they had had a cancellation.  No prep time, no steeling myself.  Spinning, spinning, heart rate running out of control...but it had to be done.  There was no escaping. I gave her the okay, but she asked me several times if I was sure I was okay.  These folks there know me.  I'm sure they've got warning signs all over my chart, so they're extra watchful of my body language.  It belies everything.  I try to pretend to be calm and collected, but they all know better.  I was going to need numbing shots with no preparedness ahead of time (I'm seriously needle-phobic, y'all), but they treated me with kid gloves and were generous with the numbing gel before the shots, so that I wouldn't go haywire.  One I got through that, then came the incredibly loud, super high pitched and obnoxious sound of the drill grinding out my tooth and setting my nerves on edge, making me tense every muscle in my body.  It's really one of the very worst sounds in the world.  I imagine these drills are in pretty plentiful supply in the torture chambers of hell, if only for the sound alone!  (I really should allow time for a massage any time I have to go to the dentist, by the way.  I always am in need of something to unknot my knots after the dentist.)  I dug my nails into the skin on the palms of my hands every time the grinding started up again, trying to concentrate on maintaining a regular and slow breathing pattern until it stopped.

Do I sound like a baby?  Like a whiner?  I don't care.  That's what my experience is whenever I go to the dentist.  They finally finished drilling and got the imprints for my new crown.  The rest of the process was easy, and the heart and breathing returned somewhat to normal.  They set me up an appointment for two weeks from now (I have to come back!) to replace the temporary with the new and permanent crown.  God willing, there will be no drills involved, so that's good.  So that's how I spent my afternoon today--at one of my least favorite places in the world.  And believe it or not, today was one of the easier days I've had at that office.  I'm sure they just love me there and can't wait until my return in two weeks.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Probably Not My Calling

January 23, 2018

Imagine a world where folks looked to me for tech support.  Now stop laughing--it's not THAT ridiculous! (A little ridiculous, yes--I'll give you that.) 

I went over to my grandma's apartment to help her fill out some paperwork for her new health care.  She had decided she was fed up with Kaiser and wanted to switch to a new health network, but that comes with a lot of paperwork that is a bit confusing, so she asked me to sit with her while she filled it out.  (Paperwork I can do.  My life is filled with paper--I'm a teacher for goodness sake.  Paper is my superpower!)

While I was over there, she asked me to help figure out how to get her computer reconnected to her internet.  Somehow the wires on the modem became compromised.  I tried to be Joe Tech and run some troubleshooting, and look at the wires to see if could manage an easy fix.  I would have felt like I saved the day.  Mostly, though, I just clicked on a few buttons and wiggled a few wires and looked relatively inept.  I actually think I figured out what the problem was--maybe--but I needed an additional cable.  I'm heading back over there on Thursday, and I'm really crossing my fingers that this is the fix I'm looking for.  Technological savvy is not my strong suit, but I'm somehow hoping to save the day anyway and look like a genius (at least to my grandma!)

Monday, January 22, 2018

New Recipe

January 22, 2018

I tried out a new recipe this weekend that I really loved.  Actually, I usually cook by looking at several recipes and then creating an amalgamation of them, which is what I did here.  It's simple, really, and delicious.  I'm not going to post a picture, though, because the picture simply doesn't do it justice (and truth be told, might turn someone away from trying it).  It's not especially pretty, but it's good nonetheless.  All you do is take a wheel of Brie cheese, spread fig jam over the top, and then top that with some cooked bacon and toasted pine nuts.  Bake it until melty, and then serve with crostini bread.  Super easy, super tasty appetizer!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

A Prime Example of Appropriation of Voice

January 21, 2018

The second Women's March happened this weekend--a commemoration of the first ground-breaking march a year ago.  Women were protesting to remind those in office that we vote and our voices matter.  Leave it to Trump to try to appropriate that march and try to pretend they were celebrating all the amazing advances he tries to tell us all he's made for women in his first year in office.  We're not buying it, Mr. Trump, and you don't get to steal our voices and tell us what we're marching for.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Well-Deserved Weekend With Friends

January 20, 2018

After my long rally week at school, I planned to take the weekend off and just enjoy some social time.  Doug and I went up to the foothills on Friday night to scope out the place Doug's band is playing in next week.  We met up with our friends Brad and Jean and had a wonderful dinner there.  Afterward, we found a little bar up the road where they had Friday night karaoke, and we stayed until closing time, singing, talking, laughing, and having a wonderful time.

The next evening we met up with our friends Scott and Mo for a little dinner at their house.  After dinner, we played a round of Would You Rather?, which provided at least a couple of full-on belly laughs.  Then we called in their kids for a game of Left-Right-Center, which was a new one for Doug and me.  Oh my goodness, it was fun!  Plus, any game that doesn't require skill (it's a dice game), works for me, as being skilled at games of any sort is not what one would call a strength of mine.

Finally, we found out Jim was in town for the evening, and we decided after we left Mo and Scott's to meet up with him at Skyline.  Jim and I had a great conversation while watching Doug play pool, and at the end of the evening Jim asked Doug if he would be his best man at his upcoming wedding.  I could tell how much it meant to him--it was so sweet!  I am so excited for Jim and Christy, and Doug and I are excited to help out in any way we can.  I can't wait until November!

On Sunday we luxuriously slept in.  Eventually we got up, and I spent the afternoon with Grandma taking care of paperwork and trying to troubleshoot her computer issue.  (Believe me, when you need a computer fixed, I'm generally not the first person on the list.  My skills are rudimentary at best.)  However, I think I was actually able to pinpoint her issue, although I couldn't solve it today.  Looks like I'll need to head back over later in the week to try to wrap it up.

Not a terribly productive weekend, but well-deserved and needed.  Making time to spend with friends is always a good investment.

Friday, January 19, 2018

I Am So Tired!

January 19, 2018

Rally week is always a little chaotic when you're a class advisor.  A lot of after school hours go into all the sign painting and setting up.  Combine that with a Monday holiday--which meant one less day to work on the rally sign--and an advisor partner who was recovering from knee surgery, and that translated into three consecutive days of not getting home until about 8.  Then Friday morning, at 7 a.m., we were at the gym for set up.  I am not a morning person, y'all!  That's an early start to my day!  My junior class officers are great, though, and as usual they pulled through.  Our rally theme was an Olympics theme, so their letters were all an homage to a winter-time sport.  They had some really creative ideas!  Even though we lost the rally, I was really proud of my kids.  Now that it's behind us though, we'll have only a moment to pause, catch our collective breath, and get into prom planning mode.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


January 18, 2018

I'm getting ready to read 1984 with my students.  I love 1984, and as a matter of fact I love dystopian fiction in general.  It's my very favorite genre.  However, in today's world, where these dystopian novels seemed to have moved out of the realm of the theoretical and into the realm of "Oh my gosh, this is literally happening!", I'm a little worried about how my students are going to react.  Of course, this is exactly why we read these kinds of books, but it doesn't mean it's not going to be uncomfortable.  It will certainly cause discussion and debate.  And although I hope kids will be able to see the truly cautionary nature of the book, what I hope even more is that as we share differing perspectives and values that will undoubtedly be borne out of reading this book together, my students will learn how to share those differing values civilly and maturely, unlike quite a lot of the 'discourse' I see online right now.  It's a valuable skill I think a great many people should attempt to strengthen.