by Pat Antonopoulos
“When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Lemonade”

Maybe you remember that poster message that was once as common as, “Have a nice day.”

For years, I tried living up to that judgment call, that challenge to rise above difficulties through my A+ attitude of gathering the emotional ingredients to transform the problems into something refreshing. More often than not, I succeeded because my life structure provided the rest of the ingredients. I had a satisfying job, a family, the comfort of a home in a safe neighborhood—-a pitcher, water, some sugar, a big spoon and ice.

As I look at current family and personal struggles, I would be ashamed to even suggest such a judgmental message as “Make Lemonade”. How hurtful to tell a struggling individual that all will be well if they simply adjust their attitude and make that sow’s ear into a lovely silk purse. How presumptive to step into their moment and decide that an attitude adjustment would change the circumstances. Even the lemons could be crushed by the weight of many of today’s circumstances.
I don’t hesitate to redirect a whine or a pout when attitude is self-serving and ruinous to family harmony. It is easy to be caught up in the message of me-first-me-above-all-my-needs. Part of my grandmother work is to gently do that redirect. This is making a ‘disciple of’. This is good discipline.
We can all have those days when we personify “Grump” and cleaning up our attitude is required if we want to function with family, friends, co-workers. We see the value in that attitude adjustment.
Respect. Respect for struggles, for circumstances, for a huge lack in life ‘ingredients” would leave a much sweeter taste than the admonishment to spin straw into gold.



by Pat Antonopoulos

We are just home from the airport, saying good-bye to a son and grandson visiting for a week. This grand parenting role has been an amazing chapter of my life. Of course, I realize that most grandparents view their grand kids as the absolute best and no doubt their grand kids come very close to that absolute.
But mine?
Mine are head-shaking, smile-making perfect in all their imperfections.
Each time they visit, I learn more, feel more and appreciate more.
This will not be a long recitation of grandchildren stories, though I am sorely tempted to let you know just how much fun I experience each time they visit.
Instead, this blog is a celebration of family.
Moments when a 15 year old girl calls just to talk….
a 17 year old boy has absolute welcome in his voice when he gets on the phone…
a four year old tells me that my stern voice is out of place, that only Daddy teaches him with that voice…when a 2 year old runs to his grandpa for an extra hug in the middle of running the little cars down the home-made ramp.
And all of this amazing joy is a tribute to their parents, their aunts, uncles, cousins—their family. These are the people who surround, protect and teach by both stern voice and smile.

Another Perspective

by Pat Antonopoulos
Love this stuff!
Loved reading Patti’s blog, Gutter Ball, and then listening to one of my sons give his perspective on President Obama’s bowling comment as reported in the newspaper.
Need to be clear that I have never watched Jay Leno so my sense of the program does not add or detract from any perspective.
My son does not own a television so he, too, has little if any sense of Jay Leno or his program.
Probably important to note that this son discussed the comment with two of his brothers, a sister and a sister-in-law.
No match-ups and no consensus in that discussion. Our family is all over the political landscape and this incident was viewed with the usual variety of perspectives.
A bit of further background is important.
My son is an educator, a father, a consistent supporter of Special Olympics and a young man who has repeatedly handed yet another coat to a homeless person when the weather demanded he walk the walk. He has loved and laughed with the special kids as they toss a ball backwards or run from third to first, smiling all the way.
So…you know where this is leading, right?
For a very long time, my son has lamented what he sees as the ‘ unreasonable corruption of political correctness’, the harnessing of thought to fit an outline designed to erase all chance of offense.
From his perspective, the man holding the office of President of the United States meant absolutely no disrespect by his comment. Rather, my son sees the incident as an indication that President Obama has a comfort level that allows him to laugh at his lack of ability and to make a comparison that does not dishonor the Special Olympians.
I do love it.
I do love to realize that each of us comes to every life moment carrying all the memories of past moments, the good and the damaged. We observe. We process. We become….and if we are lucky, we share our perspectives with those that help us enrich and clarify our own perspectives.
I am learning and I so appreciate the process.

Merit Pay

by Pat Antonopoulos

Where to begin?
Maybe with the teacher facing 25 third graders from families struggling with poverty, poor educations, minimum wage jobs and run down neighborhoods.
Give that teacher a ‘little blue book’ with the requirement that classroom disruptions be noted in the book rather than sending the most disruptive child to the principal for help with behaviors. Of those 25 children take notice that 23 of them are so emotionally scarred that they constantly quarrel with one another, vie for the teacher’s attention, and appear to have come to school without any training in self discipline.
Take a look at this teacher haggard by fatigue, frustration plus evening and weekend hours dedicated to the needs of the students. If the opportunity arose, you might notice that the teacher’s personal money is being spent for classroom needs.
Over the past 15 years, maybe longer, teachers have been mandated more and more parental responsibilities. Many classroom discipline problems rarely existed years ago. Parents took responsibility for their children’s behavior. Parents expected and insured that their kids knew what was expected in the classroom.
Behavior problems at school were quickly addressed at home.
And now? Now the teacher is expected to handle all those issues in the classroom and can even be criticized for the child’s behavior! “What did you, (the teacher) do that created the situation whereby my child acts like this? What have you done to correct the behavior?”
Merit pay?
Test scores?
Principal’s anecdotal records?
Parent input?
The Merit rests in showing up every day…in caring…in making all the effort needed to educate the children so they can break the cycle.
If we want our children educated, parents must take back the responsibility of teaching appropriate school behaviors.
In the meantime, Merit Pay must include those teachers who continue to care about our children even in circumstances where test scores might not or cannot reflect the dedication of these teachers .

The Reluctant Blogger

By Pat Antonopoulos

Remember that book, The Reluctant Tourist? A traveler not into the moment, not able to appreciate the adventure? The content of the book escapes but I do remember the title, perfect for my attempts to blog.

Blogging is part of the new highway of adventure, right? A way to get from here (my words) to there (you, the reader). I am the tourist and I come to you, the reader, with a spirit of adventure, a willingness to risk my thoughts as they will be processed through your perspectives, a tourist of the mind.

If you are a regular visitor to this blog, you might have noticed some foot-dragging by one of Four Ordinary Women. That would be me.
My blog-mate can write of tee shirts, coffee grounds, and winning or loosing old reliable games. She writes it with a sense of fun. Her blogs are good for double duty…read it twice to savor all the words and the content. Guessing that her blogs outnumber mine three to one.

However, this is not to say that I value these exchanges any less. Stephen King uses ‘gentle reader’ when he speaks through his books. That is nice. I like that. And I would very much like to find your words on our blog. Wouldn’t it be fun to take this tour together?

A Not So Ordinary Experience

by Pat Antonopoulos

Our writing is our neighborhood to share with the reader, to mourn and to celebrate what is—and what isn’t in our lives. Perspectives. Fresh insights into the common aspects of our lives. Learning, through writing, to treasure family, marriage, friendships.
These are just two examples of our efforts to write the perfect subtitle. In ten words or less, explain your book and voila! a subtitle for the book cover. Simple, or so we thought.

We struggled, and still struggle, with a subtitle for our book, Four Ordinary Women.
Amazon.com lists our book, but without a cover picture or the names of those people who wrote such beautiful and appreciated endorsements. By the end of next week, every aspect of Four Ordinary Women will be in place, we will be officially launched.

Our life lessons are made public. Our perspectives open to scrutiny. We wrote to share both wonder and anguish, hoping for that connection with you, the reader, that comes through genuine concern.

Please accept this invitation to join us by reading and sharing your thoughts about Four Ordinary Women.