Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Measuring Stick

You often hear that girls marry men like their father and guys marry women like their moms. As a newlywed, I questioned that old wives tale quite a bit. Gary shares many qualities with my dad, but Jackie and I??? I was not so sure. I just did not see it.

The mother-in-law measuring stick seemed to be 50 yards long, and I was only 3 feet tall. Mom was very budget conscious and frugal, budget was almost a foreign term to me. Mom was very direct, straightforward, and efficient. I tend to meander and wander, and take way too long to do and say too many things. Mom would start a task, and not stop until she was done. Me, I start a few projects at one time, flit from one to the other, and take twice as long to complete them. I was not so sure I would ever measure up.

One of the first memories of my newlywed life was the first time Gary's family came to Houston for a visit. We had only been married a few months. I was working full time and going to night school to finish my bachelor's degree. I think the family arrived on a Wednesday night. Gary and I both had to work Thursday, but would take Friday off. It was the start of summer break for them.

We left at the usual time in the morning, giving mom a quick tour around the galley kitchen. Jackie walked Gary and I to the door assuring me that they would all be fine that day. I don't think I will ever forget the mix of emotions I felt upon my return home. Jackie had cleaned and straightened the condo, started dinner, and washed ALL of our laundry for us. Now, I cleaned house before their arrival, and had planned to make dinner but would think about it when I got home and the laundry??? I felt like mom just discovered a dirty little secret, I hate doing laundry! That 50 yard measuring stick seemed to grow longer daily.

My feelings did not change much for the next few years. A psychologist might say it is a part of "first child syndrome" , wanting to please, to be the perfect spouse for her son, but always seeing that yardstick as way too long. We visited Mt Vernon, they visited Houston, and I kept hoping I was measuring up in her eyes, even if I wasn't in my own.

But somewhere along the way, as anyone with experience and hindsight would expect, I realized that there never was a yardstick. The thought I had during that first visit, that I did not do things well enough, could not have been further from the truth if it were on the moon. I learned that one of Jackie's driving forces was just to be of some help, in whatever way she could. Over our 30+ years of marriage, the times that Gary and I turned to her for help, guidance, or just a listening ear are innumerable . And she was always there to help.

She came down to Houston to help out after Craig and Chris were born, she and dad came to Houston to help out when we moved, she set my whole kitchen up, she babysat the kids so Gary and I could take some time for us, she helped me with sewing projects, she sewed a maternity wardrobe for me not once, or twice, but three times, she sewed clothes for the kids. The list goes on, but the reality was that Jackie was never more than a phone call, or later, an Instant Message, away and the answer was always "Yes!"

Looking at my "friends list" online these past few days has been difficult. Someone is missing. I found myself waiting for her name to pop up so I could say hello one more time. But mostly, I wanted it to pop up so I could say something I have wanted to say for a while, but did not realize it until this past week. Mom, I hope I can measure up to the mother-in-law yardstick when I become a mother-in-law myself . If I can, somehow I think you will be smiling!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Time Flies

Planning for the next unit in my Bio class and I realized that there are only 13 class days left until semester exams.  And it's only Halloween! I hope I'm having fun!  I'm too busy to think about it much.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Chief's Homecoming!

Well, it was in the stands not on the field, but still...there is something about the Chief that is just awesome! Have always loved watching, and I still shed a tear or two when I watch Chief's last dance.  So great to see him once again!  Welcome home Chief!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Better Life

"I could point out to you a family whose grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and whose present four sons now have four wifes of different nations. He is an American,who leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds.... The American is a new man, who acts upon new principles; he must thefore entertain new ideas, and form new opinions."

Letters from an American Farmer

Borrowed from a friend of mine, the above quote makes me think of my great-grandfather. He boarded a ship, the Waesland, in February 1892 at the age of 18, to come to America, looking for a better life. He brought some family members over, and went back once to visit when he was about 50, as far as I can tell. But each July 4th, I think of Great-grandpa Kellen and what he did. Were it not for the courage of men and women generations before him, there would be no "better life". Were it not for his courage, I would not be here. Leave home at 18 with the idea that you most likely would not ever see your family again, and also you might not even survive the trip across the ocean. It is unthinkable, and maybe even unimaginable, to many.

Happy Independence Day! Thank you, Great-grandpa for having the courage to build a new life, thank you to my father, father-in-law, nephew, and family friends who served or currently serve in the military to preserve those freedoms. Having now traveled internationally a small bit, those freedoms are so beautiful and precious.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Learning to Fly

Decorah Eagle Cam

Been watching this link above since late spring break from eggs to eaglets. They are now fledging. It is quite humorous to log in and read the chats from time to time. How many people are so attached to these three that they almost feel like their own children! I might also include myself in this group most days! I have shared it from time to time with my students as well. I don't think they have quite the same feeling about these little guys as we adults do! Watching one of the parents out on the branch yesterday while one or another eaglet did some wingercising and hovering. Maybe I need to pay more attention to the parents than the eaglets! Don't respond! I know those of you who will heartily agree with that one! In the meantime, I watch expectantly and sadly for the final flight.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Time flies, yet again. My 18th season as a parent colunteer with Deerfield Dolphins Swim team started today with time trials.

A year ago, at this time I was preparing to close out my career in public education.

Next weekend I will participate in my first high school graduation as a faculty member, not a parent. I had four seniors in my Anat/Physio class this year. One is headed to A&M, one to Baylor, one to Texas Tech, and one to Texas State. Two plan careers in the medical field, the other two in something non-science related. They will all do exceedingly well because they had an awesome A/P teacher this year! ;-) Not really - they will all do exceedingly well because they are awesome young adults with a solid foundation and some pretty amazing people behind them in tremendous supporting roles (aka parents). So Julia, Helcio, Sean, and Allison - goodbye, good luck, and much success in all you do. It has been my pleasure to have you in my class this year. You four and the juniors made my A period on Crimson days a great way to start the week!

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Whenever I want to remember my dad, I make these. (Which is often) Dad loved making these for breakfast on weekend mornings or for Friday night dinners during Lent. This will stay up there with Fish Soup on Christmas Eve as a Kellen tradition! (Although I have extended the Fish Soup to New Year's Day as well - an Osterman tradition!)

2 cups flour
2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg

Mix together, batter will be very thick. This is OK. Spoon onto heated griddle and cook. You can add blueberries or some bananas (chopped), mixed with chopped pecans and cinnamon/sugar/nutmeg mix.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Various and Sundry

Spring break is almost over. Oak pollen has replaced pine as the current irritant. But that means new leaves very soon. :-) One of the three oaks in the back has little leaves unfolding, while the other two are flowering. The front oak is taking its dear sweet time as always. In about 2-3 weeks, just when we are thinking it is dead, it will drop all its brown leaves, bud out, flower, then leaf out that quickly. It is our "squirrel tree", planted by a squirrel in our back yard a few years back, yielding a nice little sapling that had promise. It continues to surprise us!

Catherine and Megan left for Japan and are now returning for a week or so until things settle down there. While it is a tremendous relief to know they are out of harm's way for now, I do hope they are able to return soon and continue the amazing adventure.

And so it goes.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bare Trees

The old Fleetwood Mac songs runs through my head these days. The last blue norther is behind us (I hope!) and the oaks in the back yard have dropped all their leaves. Twenty plus bags later and the back yard looks clean again, but the trees are naked! Driving to work and looking out the windows across from my classroom, all the hardwoods are naked. I love this time though, because in 2-3 weeks, the trees will take on this lovely yellow-green haze as they bud out and soon the lush green of spring here will take hold.