What’s In That Bag?

This morning at breakfast Jay noticed a rolled up brown bag on the kitchen table.  I knew that it contained a take-home portion of preacher cookies from Nana’s house the night before, but Jay had no idea.  I also knew that if the little people in my house discovered the bag’s contents, they would be gone before I got any.  So when he asked about it at breakfast with everyone around, I had to get a little creative….

Jay:  What’s in that bag?
Me:  Ummm….circular…..uhh……carbohydrate goodness….of the no bake variety.

You see, Chica can read now.  And when she really wants to, she can decode fairly well.  So my normal answer that has worked for the past six years, “C-O-O-K-I-E-S,” is no longer effective.  After a second or two he caught my drift, and we both had a good laugh over it.

AND they still don’t know we have cookies.  Score.

So we decided we should start preparing our responses for other common situations where the spelling strategy just won’t work.  Here’s the list we’ve got so far….

Jay:  A package came today.  What is it?
Me:  It’s a parcel to celebrate the delivery of our eldest offspring.

Jay:  Did you hear what Nana just asked?
Me:  No. What?
Jay:  She wants to know if we want to deposit our decedents in her care for the nocturnal hours.
Me:  Of course.

Jay:  What should we do for dinner tonight?
Me:  Why don’t we just patronize our favorite local establishment that specializes in the preparation of circular Italian specialties?

Me:  They’re driving me crazy.  What can they do?
Jay:  Can they retire to the subterranean chamber and make use of the cathode ray tube for an undetermined amount of time?

And my personal favorite….

Jay:  What are you doing after the kids are in bed?
Me:  Why don’t we go recline horizontally in the slumber chamber with minimal distance between us?
Jay:  Are you suggesting we do this with a lack of garments?
Me:  Affirmative.

So how about you, friends?  Have any questions that require vocabulary rich answers?  We’ll work on a reply for you if you don’t already have one.  Please share!

P.S. Jay wants to be sure you know that the rectangular prism in our subterranean chamber is so old that it does, in fact, still have a cathode ray tube.  Ok.  Whatever.

P.P.S.  I asked Jay if our last question in the list above was maybe a bit too much for my usually family-friendly blog.  His response?  “Naaaa…..they’ve got to know it’s happened at least twice.”  Man, that guy always makes me laugh.

 

What Do You Do?

7:45 a.m.  Fifteen minutes later than I like to be.  Eight things on my to-do list when I get there.  Two kids in the way back seat slowly driving me the rest of the way to crazy.  And I hear one quick story on the radio that snaps things back into perspective.  It went something like this:

A man looking for a new job was in the habit of asking people he met, “What do you do?”  One day he met a woman who told him, “I give people hope.”  When he inquired further, turns out she was a supermarket clerk, but she viewed her real job as hope-giver.  She tried to find the grouchy or sad person each day and give them a little extra attention.  Hope, even. 

Oh.

So I, of course, had to imagine then how I might have responded to the same inquiry…

I teach.
I write lesson plans.  I stay up too late searching for the next big idea.
I carry a bag of papers home each night.  On weekends I grade them.
I assess.  I record my assessments, and then I try to figure out what to do about it.
I often fail.
I write emails.  I write more emails.
I plan field trips.  I fill out three different pieces of paper with the exact same information.
I form stacks of paper that I never end up filing.
I make videos.
I dance.  I write songs.  I sing.  Often.
I run to the bathroom, holding my breath, hoping that I will be fast enough.
I teach self-centered little people how to be a little more other-centered.
I find missing pencils.
I bandage boo-boos.
I mediate.
I call parents when kids miss the bus.
I comfort kids.  I comfort their parents even more on some days.
I fix computers.
I use both sides of paper so we won’t be wasteful.
I hoard staplers and tape and pencil sharpeners and glue sticks.

And then there are the moments that I’m never proud of…

I yell.
I make kids feel bad for something outside of their control.
I shame.
I forget to do things I promised I would do.
I choose not to forget and move on.
I get short with my teammates.
I complain.

So what about the lady at the supermarket?  Something tells me that if she stepped into my shoes, she wouldn’t describe her job in any of these ways.  Her answer would be way better.  So after putting on my perspectacles and thinking about this today, here’s what I hope I do…

I inspire.  I cheer when I see them go home and keep digging for more.
I challenge.  I don’t let them give up on themselves or each other.
I connect.   Math to them, them to each other, them to the world.
I apologize.  I forgive.  I try to be an adult that’s not afraid of those words.
I love math, and I love learning, and I’m learning to love the kids even more than the math.

I love.

What do YOU do?

 

 

When It Rains…

…we make pancakes.  Today was my first day of sleeping in for many, many weeks.  And by sleeping in, I mean staying in the bed (not necessarily sleeping) until sometime after 6:00.  I was still wavering over going for a morning run, but the steady rain outside quickly helped me reach the conclusion that the run was a no-go.  I attempted to get a head start on schoolwork, but Bubba had other ideas.  Eventually I decided, if you can’t beat him, join him.  So together we made pancakes while Daddy and Chica snoozed. IMG_0025

I sent Bubba in to tell them about the surprise once our stack was hot and ready.  I overheard from the other room, “Guess what we made!?  It’s S-T-O-Y.  That spells pan-a-cakes!!!”  The pan-a-cakes of course got both of them out of bed in a second.  Good work, Bub.

…we remember who doesn’t own a raincoat.  Against Daddy’s better judgment, we decided to follow through with our plan to peruse Day in the Park.   It wasn’t raining that hard.  So I put on my raincoat, a green classic (read: dated) L.L. Bean coat I likely got in high school in preparation for my summer as a camp counselor.  Chica has an equally classic (but much less dated) Lands End hand-me-down from a sweet friend.  No worries that it’s probably 2 sizes too big.  This just means 2 more years I won’t have to buy her one.  Jay reluctantly donned his red one.  (He’s the only member of this house with 3+ raincoats, none of which are ever quite right.  I do love that guy.)  And then there’s poor Bubba with just his everyday hoodie sweatshirt.  How many times have I reminded myself I need to get that kid a raincoat?!  Thankfully Chica’s raincoat is green.  If he can wait two or three years, he’ll eventually have one that fits.

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…I get lots of compliments on my footwear.  What else would you expect with these hand-me-down beauties from Nana?

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…there are no lines at Day in the Park.  Our kids hardly ever ride rides because they either cost too much or the lines are too long.  Well, today we had neither excuse to deny them because the rides were free and only crazy people take their kids to play in the park in the rain.  So Bubba rode the train two times in a row, they both tried out the ponies, and all three of us rode the spinning ride until I was afraid I would get sick.  I hope to never forget the sound of all three of us giggling as we whirled round and around.

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…you still run into lots of friends.  Apparently many of our friends happen to be crazy people as well because we still ended up seeing lots of them there.  Perhaps my favorite was seeing our friends together as a family of four instead of their usual weekend family of three. Yay for new a new job as a student that means dad gets to do fun things on the weekend!

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…it doesn’t always pour.  Sometimes rain means just as much fun, or more!

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One. More. Day.

One more day of waking up to, “Mommy, can I get in bed with you?” instead of the alarm clock. One more day of making lunch when it’s time to eat it instead of 6 or even 16 hours earlier. One more day of going to bed without feeling guilty about all of the things that are undone.

This summer has been amazing.

Does every teacher turned stay-at-home-mom have that first day of summer fear? I look forward to summer all year long, and then it catches me off guard every time. What….I have to entertain these people all day? These people who don’t listen to me and argue with each other over nothing? But soon, as in the next day, we catch a rhythm and we like each other again and it is fun. This summer was no exception.

I keep coming back to the word full. About halfway through the summer I talked to one of my school teammates about something that I have since forgotten. Once we had taken care of our school stuff, she asked me about our summer. As I rambled off our trips taken and our trips planned, she replied, “Wow! What a full summer!”

So I’ve been thinking about how there are two kinds of full. There’s that full that leaves you miserable. Where you’re done and it was delicious, but you know you should have stopped at two servings instead of three or four. That kind of full leaves you tired and needing to sleep it off to recover. And then there’s the full where you’ve had just enough. That’s the kind of summer we’ve had. The kind that leaves me knowing it was delicious and perfect, but also feeling refueled for what’s next.

But I’m a bit afraid….afraid of two things. First, I’m afraid I’ll forget about just how good this summer tasted. I’ll get busy and bogged down and forget that I had two months off to enjoy my family. I’m also afraid that I’ve spent those two months slowing down, clearing margins, and learning to like my little people again, only to forget how to do those things promptly on August 22nd. So I decided to make a list. A list I can read on August 22nd (and again and again) to remind myself that I was, in fact, full and refueled to once again to do this job I am called and recalled to do each year. So here goes…

*I spent my first week of the summer teaching classes to teachers about Edmodo and interactive web tools. One foot in the classroom and one foot at home was a good way to ease my way into summer. It was probably good I didn’t go straight into all mommy, all the time.

*For Father’s Day we made fun videos with our new camera for both Grandpa and Papa.

*Chica spent a week at LCS soccer camp which meant that Bubba and I had a few hours each morning together. We filled our time with errands, visiting a friend, checking out the library, etc. Bubba’s favorite part of that week was certainly the snow cone he got to share with Chica each day when we picked her up!

*I got to go to teacher camp at JMU to learn about STEM. Jay was working summer school, so the kids also had their own vacay with the grandparents. Highlights of that week for me included finding a running partner and new friend, eating whatever the heck I wanted, visiting a winery, and a late night conversation on the lawn with friends just like we were still in college. Oh…and I learned a few things about STEM too. (Ask me about my Thneed invention sometime!)

*We spent Jay’s one true week off at CrossRoads volunteering as a family. I am not exaggerating when I say that I was more well-rested by the end of that week than I have been since the birth of Chica. No internet coupled with no responsibilities past set the table, clean the table, take pictures, and keep my two kids under control was bliss. I also admit I had tremendous fun watching CariJoy experience so many of the same frustrations that I remember feeling.  She was doing a fantastic job.

* The next two weeks were Chica’s swimming lessons at Miller Park. I think she likes swimming, but she enjoyed the socializing much more. Me too! I spent each morning hanging out with another swim mom and her sweet kids. Bubba learned quickly that her bag was full of snacks. They were best buds for the two weeks.

*Chica, Bubba, and I all experienced our first real train ride in West Virginia. Our long weekend with Daddy, Papa, and Nana to ride two different trains was just perfect. I have yet to write about it in detail (maybe one day…), but our day on the steam engine was definitely my favorite. From Bubba napping in my lap to Chica falling in the river totally unfazed, it was a perfect day.

*Nana and I followed that weekend trip up with a girls+Bubba trip to Virginia Beach. We learned from this trip: 1) There’s no point in taking a book to the beach when you have two kids with you. 2) Book the hotel early next year so we can get an actual beachfront room without breaking the bank. 3) We’re going for 3 nights next time. One of my favorite parts of the trip was visiting a long-time friend and her fun family in their home. I hope we can return the favor one day!

*Then the kids and I headed off to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for a week. Each morning we had a plan to be out of the house by 9 am and doing something fun…park, botanical gardens, library, etc. At nap time we worked on cleaning out rooms and closets and gathering stuff for a yard sale. We had planned to have it that Saturday, but rain made us postpone it until this past weekend. That totally turned out fine with me because I spent my birthday eating Chick-fil-A, playing at the Y, resting, and relaxing instead of haggling over quarters.

*As if that wasn’t full enough, I feel like there are a million other things that happened that don’t show up as I review my (only partially filled in) Google calendar. The kids and I surprised Daddy on his birthday with balloons and coffee at work. I taught Sunday School to kindergartners. (EEK!) I cut all my hair off and donated it. I started training with my sweet neighbor for the Ten Miler. Chica passed the swim test (finally…yesterday), got to paint pottery as a reward, and conquered her fear of the Y’s water slide. Jay started his Master’s program. We started a LifeGroup and have eight new dear friends we eat with and do life with each Thursday. We hiked. We played. We jumped on the trampoline. We read books. We grew vegetables. We went to the movies. We got to know our neighbors. We took naps. We stayed up late. We enjoyed each other.

And you know what I didn’t do? I didn’t go to school. Ok…there was that one time. No lie…I went in once because I needed whiteout at home and was too cheap to go buy some because I knew I had at least 17 bottles in my desk drawer. Besides that visit, and teacher camp, and two days of NASA stuff this past week, I didn’t do school. And I am so thankful. Admittedly I’m a bit anxious for what that means for this coming week, but I’ll take it. It will all get done. It always does.

So I’m going to spend my one more day tomorrow (err….today, now) loving on my babies and napping and preparing for the months ahead. But I think my preparation will look a little different this year than in years past. I’m not cracking open the lesson plan book or pacing guides just yet. (Shoot…I haven’t even bought the lesson plan book yet!) I’m going to spend the day thinking and praying about how I will carry the summer into the school year. How will I continue to carve out margins? How will I continue to build up Jay as he tackles a tough year of balancing school and work? How will I continue to enjoy my little people as the pressures of work build?

May this coming school year be just as full. Full of blessings and growth and joy. Full in the good way!

Things I Think I Know at 32

1. More-is-better does not apply to the number of people in a hammock.

2. Humans of New York is one of the most fascinating and beautiful things the Internets have to offer these days.

3. When hosing crap off of a trampoline, there is no good place to stand. Anywhere you stand, it’s coming right back atcha. Gravity fail.

4. Tomatoes are better in the summer.

5. The best way to grow killer pumpkins involves 2 easy steps. First, kick last year’s pumpkin up under the porch. Second, just wait.

6. Bubba won’t be 14 and wearing diapers.

7. I shall never again have a flat(ter) stomach without working at it.

8. Showers at the YMCA are so much easier than baths in our own tub.

9. TV is ok.

10. So is not going into school until your contract says you have to be there.

11. Sometimes the need to go to the bathroom every 5 minutes leads to great things. Like running into a dear old friend who Jesus put there to encourage you.

12. Not every stay at home mom loves her job. (That same dear old friend told me that.)

13. Jay is way better at grocery shopping than me.

14. Uranus is halfway between the sun and Pluto. Just like your anus is halfway between your head and your feet. You’re welcome.

15. The maximum life expectancy of a plant in my house is 1 year.

16. Facebook makes birthdays better.

17. Reindeers are better than people. (Eh…never mind. I’ve never met one, so I’m not actually sure.)

18. Graham crackers make booboos feel better. Bubba just told me that. Chica bought it.

19. If Sallie Mae asks you for a date in mm/dd/yyyy format, she actually means it.

20. Chica will do nearly anything for an icee pop.

21. Moths have fuzzy antennae. Butterflies don’t.

22. More stuff does not equal more happiness. It just means more mess to clean up. Or more to sell at a yard sale later.

23. If you don’t want mosquitoes to bite you, you can just stop breathing because they are attracted to hot air. Chica told me that.

24. Steve Urkel is still funny.

25. It’s ok to wipe eye burgers on your shirt. Bubba told me that.

26. Not every kid likes toothpaste. (As always, Chica didn’t prepare me well for kid #2.)

27. When one is woken up in the middle of the night by a roundhouse kick to the head, the foot of the bed seems like a good place to (temporarily) hide from your pint-sized attacker. But don’t worry, he’ll find you there too.

28. No one needs to buy prom pictures. Especially multiple sheets of them. (What in the world were we thinking??)

29. I’m not any cooler than the mom whose kid poops in the pool. Just luckier.  Or maybe faster.

30. When your kids look at your baby pictures, the toys in the pictures are way more interesting than…well…you.

31. Coming home from a trip with a suitcase full of clean and folded clothes is one of life’s great gifts.

32. There are still a few cool people in this world that do not have a smart phone, including both myself and my delightful lunch date today.

Whadaya know friends?

Today From A to Z

Applesauce—Both kids ate two cups today at lunch. These days Bubba insists on adding a drop of food coloring each time he’s served applesauce or “yogrit”. Today he had one green cup and one red cup.

Blackwater Creek—We started the day with no plan whatsoever. Scary. By 8:30 we decided on a hike starting at the Farm Basket as our first to-do. Chica couldn’t figure why it was called Blackwater Creek when it was looking so brown today.

Crying—There has been much of that lately. Ugh. We’re trying so hard to teach Chica that she needs to reserve the full on sobs for life or death situations. See U for today’s teachable moment.

Dishes—I find myself being reminded over and over these days that something is better than nothing. Kids, house, husband, God, exercise….seems to work in all directions. Standing over my sink during nap time I rehearsed this line. Getting the dishwasher loaded and started was something. The sink wasn’t spotless and I didn’t finish everything, but doing that much was better than not starting at all.

E-mail—I’m waiting these days on an e-mail from Sallie Mae to say that she has forgiven $5,000 of my college debt for working in a Title 1 school. Any day now, Sallie.

Franky—On our hike this morning we found a turtle. The kids together named him Franky. I snapped a picture of him and sent it to Jay for his daily we-wish-you-were-here reminder. When Jay got home he asked Bubba, “Who’s Franky?” Bubba, in his old man voice, replied without hesitation, “Oh, that’s a box turtle we found on our hike.” I love that old man voice of his. And I love Jay for asking.

Grieving—A sweet friend of ours lost her mama this week unexpectedly. I can’t even imagine. Wish I could have been there for her tonight.

Hammock—When I started my A to Z list tonight, Jay was attempting to fall asleep under the deck in his newly acquired birthday present. He asked if I minded if he slept out there. My response? “Of course not, as long as I get a night out there another day!” I think the bugs have since sent him back inside.

Ice cream—Mommy confession: I have cut out treats after lunch each day for the kids. However, as soon as both kids are down for the count at nap time, the first thing I do is grab a bowl of ice cream. Do as I say, not as I do kiddies.

John—Our life group challenge last week was to read through the book of John. I started much too late to finish the whole book by Thursday, so I’m still working my way through it. Our goal was to read it like a story, focusing on the idea of a beginning, middle, and end without getting bogged down in the details. I’m liking this plan.

Knocking—Bubba heard the sound of a woodpecker on our hike and didn’t know what it was. Chica and I together explained how a woodpecker gets bugs from trees. We never saw the bird, however. Bubba must have asked us ten times in a row, “But where IS the woodpecker?”

Laundry—I came home from the pool this afternoon grouchy because Chica was grouchy. It took two small things to get me to stop moping: 1. I sent Chica to her room until dinner was ready. There was much sobbing, but she actually stayed there. 2. Jay offered to fold the laundry tonight. I love that guy.

Marble game—This toy is still out in our living room…it usually doesn’t make it more than a day! This morning before breakfast I sat on the couch and just watched both kids play happily together for an eerily long time.

Neighbors—Can I just say we have the best? I have such sweet friends on both sides of our house. I started the day with one (See T) and ended the day with the other. We are so blessed.

Omitting words—I should have known. Bubba asked for the Stripes book for the 5th or 6th night in a row. Sheesh this is a long book! So tonight towards the end I started skipping words and a few sentences here and there. Let me tell you, there is no getting by Chica on that! She found me out right away. Jay’s laugh while listening to our conversation from the other room was priceless.

Pool—Bubba’s request for the day was to go to “the pool with a playground.” So off we went this afternoon to Miller Park pool. We have been spoiled with the indoor pool at the YMCA. There was lots of whining.

Quack—Chica is still trying to get Bubba to play along with some (dumb) joke about dogs and ducks. It’s lame, and I think he knows that, but he so wants to do whatever to make her happy. I think the gist of the joke is that if she asks what the dog says, he’s supposed to say, “Quack.” Yeah, I don’t really get it either.

Rip—My dumb joke of the week is calling Bubba “Rip”. Today before nap time we wrestled and tickled and teased. He laughed every time I called him that. He’s easy.

School—I’m trying not to think about it.

Three miles—I’m so thankful for my neighbor friend who’s been dragging me out of the house at an un-summer hour for a run. Today we talked about church, school, kids, pets, and everything in between.

Under the table—We ate on the deck tonight. Under Chica’s chair was a huge spider web and ugly spider. Instead of an, “Ah! Spider!” or “Hey…can you get this spider web?” she just started wailing. Somebody please tell me the drama queen stuff will die down soon.

Vlog—This is what I watched today while folding the first half of the laundry. It’s definitely my favorite background noise for getting chores done these days.

Walk—With a bribe of chocolate, I convinced my little family to take a lap around the neighborhood after dinner. For the first time, we made it without any stops to rest.

X-ray—On Wednesday I took Chica to the doc in the box to get her knee checked out. There was much drama over the knee throughout our quick beach vacay at the beginning of the week. The x-ray was clear, but she was told to ice it and rest. In spite of a fall yesterday off the tall end of the porch with her bike and onto the prickly pumpkin plant (??), she seems to be doing much better. Phew.

YMCA—I love that place these days. Today I swam 25 laps while the kids played in the Kids’ Gym and playroom. Mommy confession #2: Yesterday I finished my workout, took a shower, and since my two hours weren’t up, I sat and read a book for 15 quiet minutes while they kept playing. Eek.

Zucchini—We got our first one out of the garden today. That was a long time coming!

 

Still Your Kid

As I’ve written once before, Jay and I take great fun in pointing out traits we see in our kids that resemble each other.  “That’s YOUR kid!” we quip quite often.  This week was no exception…

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Chica has been taking swimming lessons for the past two weeks at Miller Park.  Learning to jump in and go under, sliding down the slide, and conquering the diving board were all highlights.  But just as fun for her (and me and Bubba!) were the friends we’ve made through swimming lessons.

After yesterday’s lesson, while we were sitting around drying off, Chica’s friend Levi was so excited about the treasure he had found during the lesson.  Her response was priceless.

Levi:  Look!!!  I found six cents!  (You must imagine him saying this with an excitement level 9 or 10.)
Chica:  Oh.  Well, when you get a dollar, call me.  (This with an excitement level pushing 2.)

Levi’s mom and I immediately begin to crack up, but Chica continues…

Chica:  Cause if you have a dollar, then we can go to the mall and ride the rides.

Even though Jay wasn’t there, I’m sure he would agree that’s my kid.  This is the tell-it-like-it-is kid, matter of factly figuring out a solution to her problem with little regard to the feelings of everybody else.  I want to ride the rides, but I need a dollar.  When you’ve got a dollar, let’s talk.  Love her.

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I must admit I’m getting a little nervous for this guy and the upcoming school year.  He is square in the middle of being two and a half….pushing the limits in every way imaginable.  I’m fearing end of the day conversations with his teachers about screaming when corrected or biting.  Ugh.  We’re working on it, I promise.  He is, at the same time, saying his sweet, “Thank you, Mommy,” or “I’m sorry, Sister,” without being asked.

One morning this week Bubba climbed up in Jay’s desk chair and began to open the drawer with all the fun stuff.  (Ex. The permanent markers which he recently used to color all over playing cards that he also found in the fun drawer.)

Jay:  Bubba, don’t open that drawer.
Bubba:  Why?
Jay:  You know there’s nothing in there for you.

Somehow his tiny little brain could compute that there was just enough sarcasm in Daddy’s answer to tell him that he could get away with being funny.  This is what Bubba shot back:

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Bubba computation was right, and Jay and I both laughed.  (Yes, I know, not the best parenting strategy.  Working on that too.)  But then this happened:

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I know I’ve seen Jay make that face and that point a hundred times, usually in all seriousness and not just mocking Bubba.  But until I saw them do it one right after the other, I hadn’t put it together that Bubba learned it from him.  “That’s YOUR kid!  I know where he gets that face now!!!!”  More hilarious laughing.  Never a dull moment around here.

How about you?  Leave me a comment about your latest, “That’s YOUR kid!” moment.