Sunday, January 18, 2009

Happy Birthday to me mum!

A very special lit'le lady in my life celebrated her 62nd birthday on Friday. That would be my mom, the selfless and original Karen M. Christenson.

Now before you stop reading, let me relate a few stories of my mom that will hopefully cause her great embarrassment, as I've been planning to get back at her for more than 20 years when she divulged to my 8th grade science class on my birthday that when I was born, I had a bowel movement, and the doctor proclaimed me a "dirty baby." Hence, my nickname for the rest of the year was "dirty baby."

My mom is a teacher, and wherever some of her 10 kids went to school, my mom wanted to be there. So odds are, most of us have actually been a student in one of my mom's classes. For many years she taught english and then science at West Minico Junior High School. Then she taught gifted and talented and remedial high schooler students. Now she teaches english at Burley High School, and if all calculations are correct, this will be her last year.

I think we are all kind-of amazed that my dad found someone like my mom to marry him. Dad is great, don't get me wrong, but my mom is one of those rare individuals who is positive, thoughful, smart, courageous, and just awe-inspiring. But this post is aimed at embarrassing, so to the little known facts about my mom (except by those inside our immediate family):
  • Mom drives like a bat-out-of-hell. Because we drove with mom to school in our ginormous brown van, we knew our life could potentially end at any moment when mom was behind the wheel. Every morning it seemed we were running late, so Mom would floor the pedal to the medal and race to school. The snow and ice didn't even slow her down. We would try to patiently say, "Uh, Mom, you'd better slow down," but then we would get the, "Be quiet. I know what I'm doing. Just don't say anything." So we kept our yaps shut and our prayers flowin'. Miraculously, we never got in a wreck. We assumed it was her California upbringing that brought the wild side out of Mom.
  • Mom tends to doubt before she believes. The best example was when B.J. was trying to jump over a tree via the trampoline in our backyard. He fell from his ridiculously high height and landed on his arm (clearing the tree, so he won that dare). You could instantly tell he'd seriously broken his arm, because his arm resembled the ZZ Top trademark. B.J. ran into the house saying, "Mom, I broke my arm." My mom's response: "How do you know that? I'm sure it's not that bad." Then B.J. held up his arm. Nothing else was said. Mom summoned B.J. to the van, and they were off to the hospital.
  • My mom is a bit of a ham. She's not afraid to dress up in Halloween costumes such as Frosty the Snowman or Sandra Dee, even at the embarrassment of her children who happen to go to the same school as where she teaches. But the best story of her hamminess comes from my dad. When he and my mom first started teaching back in the late 60s, early 70s, they taught at a small junior high school halfway between Menan and Lewisville, Idaho. For one of the pep assemblies, my dad and mom dressed up as African native tribal people (this was long before PC). They wore black tights under leopard-print sarongs and danced around to wild rock'n'roll music (to my dad, anything harder than the Beach Boys) in front of the middle school student body. Half way through the dance, my mom's sarong (skirt) fell off. She was unaware of the sarong falling off, and continued dancing even more wildly when the kids' roaring laughter increased. She finally saw her skirt was not a part of her ensemble, and ran over to pick it up and put it back on. Of course, she continued dancing afterwards.

This is a picture of my mom on her wedding day in 1966. She was 19.

Everything I am I owe to my angel mother, is how me and Abe Lincoln feel. So many great lessons were given to me by example and from discussion with my mother. An especially tender moment in my life was after I had my first child. Post-partum depression set in the moment my mom left after spending a few days helping me adjust to life with a baby. I was a wreck. But every night for two weeks my mother called me to check on me. Her voice was full of understanding and care. She had great empathy, as she knew very well how hard those first few weeks after having a baby can be.

Here's a picture of me, my mom, my mom's mom, and my baby Lilia at less than one week old.

Happy birthday, Karen! I hope my other siblings post their memories about the remarkable lady we're all so grateful to call our mom.


mariann and Tory said...

Happy BIRTHDAY! She was an awesome teacher! I had her in 7th grade at West and then for something in summer school! She is amazing!

Gma C said...

Cinster, I love your blog about me, but please don't age me faster than I already am. I am 62--born in 1947. Just to set the record straight--I am an impeccable driver. After all your father, a former drivers ed instructor, has been giving me lessons for over 40 years. Mom

Anonymous said...

I think that I am one of the few kids that never had mom as a teacher. However, my other teachers knew that she worked there so Mrs Hays took my shoe laces which had been tied into a noose to her in 9th grade english. She was also the only parent aware of the paddling i got in 9th grade for switching instruments in band. Truly a saintly women who in heaven will have many an admairer for just the sheer volume of malarky she delt with as a mere mortal. Love Always Brian

Morkthefied said...

Sorry, Mom. I'll correct that for posterity. I always think you were born in 1946.

Keri Anderson said...

Happy Birthday, Mrs. C! I love ya, but I have to side with Cindy on your driving ablities. I have a memory (forever tattooed on my brain) of driving home with you post-Lagoon. You had been up the entire night before grading papers and were having a hard time keeping your eyes open and the car in between the lines. Even though every other kid in the car was sleeping, I felt it was my duty to chat all the way home to make sure you stayed awake. Scary! (All of you Christenson kids owe me one.)

Amo said...

I had Mom in 8th Grade for English for one quarter --hated it. I especially hated the fact that she told all those stories about us. She didn't tell any while I was in class, but to all the other classes she let them know that I almost killed Hetty (that was the year Doug and I had our "accident" with Hetty). I never heard the end of it. Of course, now I know those things are what make being a Mom so much fun. I love embarrassing Sarah!

As for driving, thank you Keri for saving Mom and everyone else in the van that day. No matter what she says, she is the absolutely worst driver ever. Those drives to West Minico in the van will haunt me until the day I die -- the van swinging from side-to-side, nearly tipping over as she flew over the canals and driving on only fumes stand out in my memory. I completely understand why Dad gets so nervous everytime he is in the car with her and she is driving. Didn't Kathy actually fall out of the car a couple of times while Mom was driving? I know Mom will claim that was not her fault, but, really, who has children flying out the doors while driving besides her?

But, I agree with Cindy and Brian, our mother is a saint. I will never be able to express the gratitude I have for her and her many kindnesses. If ever there was a "tender mercy" in my life, it is Mom.

just monkeyin' around said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
just monkeyin' around said...

Cindy...I do remember riding in the car with your family a few times...but Kathy was the one who made me think the bright light was coming...she took us out to Jana Baily's house one day and I thought for sure we were going to end up upside down in the canal bank...and there was that day you gave me a ride home from volleyball practice and that creepy guy followed us to my house...You're mom has always been an awesome lady in my eyes, and a wonderful sense of humor...I'm just sorry I didn't pay attention in her 8th grade science class, but then again my attention span in school was never any good.

Aunt Judy said...

I hope it is okay that I post a commnet and along with that I hope it is okay that your mom gave me the address of this blog. She is so proud of Cindy's writing ability and wanted to share the joy. I have enjoyed the couple of posts I have read. Your mother is one of the dearest friends I have. I love her and enjoy her. She IS amazing. I have had the opportunity of teaching with her for several years. Because of our professional realtionship we have been lucky to develop a personal association and again she is the best. My only regret is that I haven't known her longer. My life is richer not only because of her but also because of you wonderful kids. She loves you all so much and it has been my privilege to hear her joys.
P.S. I think her driving is fine; however, if you were to do talk to my family they may describe my driving similar to how you describe your Mom's. Thanks Judy Chandler

Amo said...

I think you need to ride sometime with Mom when she is late -- then you will see the light (hopefully not "the light," but you can't rule anything out with the way Mom drives when she's late).

I know she treasures your friendship!