Summer Week 1

My typical back to school conversation goes like this:

Friend:  How was your summer?
Me: Great!
Friend:  Did you do anything fun?
Me:  Yes!  We went camping.  We visited my parents in Richmond and went to Kings Dominion.  We swam at the Y.  I took classes.  It went by too fast.

Yes, camping and Kings Dominion are highlights for me, and much of my time will be taken up with grad school, but each summer has so many other small moments worth remembering.  Moments like eating ice cream for dinner and baseball games and bike rides.

So I’ve decided to try to post at least one photo and memory each day this summer.  This way I can look back on August 7th and remember that the summer was more than our two trips and studying.  I fully realize that this plan might go the way of summer chore lists and never make it past the first week, but it can’t hurt to try, right?  So here goes….

Day 1  Last Day of School

The hours and hours of work I put into the end of year video certainly felt worth it when I watched students sing along:

This lovely lady will be a senior next year, and we ran into her at the GO Center picnic.  Michelle taught her in third grade, and I taught her the next year in fourth.  She made such an impression on both of us.  I’ve always known she will accomplish big things in life!  I had another favorite student stop by the day before with her mom, and two more on Friday.  It’s such a gift to watch our students grow up and become the amazing humans that they are.

 

And I got this letter from a current student.  Day made.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 Code Girls

As soon as my semester at VCU ended, I decided to tackle my summer reading list.  Up first was Code Girls because I wanted to hear Dorothy Braden Bruce speak during the Randolph College Reunion.  At 98, she was witty, charming, and fascinating.  My favorite moment was when the interviewer asked her if she was scared to head to Washington to do a job that she knew nothing about.  In a very matter of fact way, she said, “No.”  She felt fully prepared for whatever she might face because of the education she had received at R-MWC.  I certainly knew that feeling, and I think so many of the other women in the room did too.

As an added bonus, I ran into two class of ’03 friends who where enjoying their 15th year reunion.  What a great surprise!

Day 3  Conquer the Cove 25K

 

I spent the first 8 miles with Ruth and Rhonda.  Their company made the miles pass quickly and put me in a good mood.  I didn’t really mean to, but I pulled ahead of Ruth when we hit the long, uphill fire road.  I’ve decided, for now, that I like fire road climbs better than single track climbs.  I think that the hilly downtown run that (the other) Ruth and I do a few mornings each week paid off!  I ate lots of pickles, saw one tiny turtle, tried to run with gratitude, and stayed mostly dry and clean-ish until the last 5 minutes.  Maddy coming up from behind motivated me to keep pushing all the way to the finish.  Being kid-free after the race allowed Jay and I to hang around, cheer for our friends finishing the marathon, and take the long way home.  It was a perfect day.

Day 4 Small Victories

I accomplished something this morning that I’ve been wanting to do for months….I cleaned off our porch.  It had accumulated an unruly collection of toys, tools, and broken junk, and there were weeds climbing up from both sides.  Tonight Jay and I enjoyed the first of many hours of summer porch sitting.

We spent an hour at the YMCA pool this afternoon.  The last time we went, Bubba got up the nerve to try the swim test, but he didn’t pass.  He tried again today and earned the red band, granting him access to their super cool slide!  I’m proud of that kid!!

Day 5 Enchiladas

During the school year I forget how much I like to cook.  We get stuck in a rut of Chic-fil-A, pizza, hamburgers, and waaaay too many Lunchables.  At least for now, while I’m not taking classes, I’m enjoying cooking again.  Last night Chica helped me make chicken piccata, and tonight Bubba helped me with enchiladas.  Neither of them was really a fan of what we cooked, but they’re not a fan of much when it comes to food.

 

 

Day 6 Gifts

This morning when I returned from my morning run, I found some out-of-the-blue gifts in my chair on the porch.  That Jay Proffitt is one smart dude.  He knows I like practical gifts, hence the work gloves and shovels.  He also knows that my enthusiasm for weeding our flowerbeds might last longer if I have the right tools to use.  And finally, he knows I lose stuff….hence the triple pack of gloves.  Love.  For the last few mornings he’s enjoyed his coffee on the porch while I pull weeds.  I think he’s always wanted to keep me company like this when I cook, but I have to concentrate way too much.  Weeding is mindless, so we’ve enjoyed those few cool minutes just chatting before the sun comes up and over the house.

After dinner tonight we went for a one mile walk on the Creekside Trail starting at the Farm Basket.  I think Bubba’s the only one that’s not afraid of the swinging bridge, but he was not so sure about the big sinkhole right before the steps.  I was so thankful that Jay put his video editing work on hold for an evening and came with us!

Day 7 Home

 

 

 

 

This was the first day we didn’t go to the pool at the Y.  I had great intentions of cleaning up and planning for the summer camp sessions I’m leading next week, but it just didn’t happen.  I read a bunch and played Carcassonne with Bubba while Chica played Minecraft.  In the afternoon we invited friends over to play in the sprinkler, and after dinner we rode up to New Covenant to let Chica learn how to get on and off her new to her (and almost too tall) bike.  We got it earlier this week from a Facebook Marketplace post.  She fell that day while trying to stop and scraped up her knees, so she was pretty hesitant to get back on it.  But as you can see in the picture, she got over that today and was thrilled with herself for learning how to stop and work the gears.  Watching them both finally ride confidently makes me so excited for our trip to Damascus in the fall.  It will be our first go at the Creeper Trail with no one being pulled in a buggy!

The kids are spending the night with Nana and Papa, so Jay and I enjoyed the best kind of date at Mr. Goodies.  I didn’t snap a picture, but we both commented like 17 times about how good it was.  I’m pretty sure it tastes even better than normal when you are kid-free. 🙂

 

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Currently Me

Eating:   Hot Tamales. Daddy took the hint and bought the big bag again. Just in time for me to (likely) receive 27 boxes from my students as end of the year gifts. Not too worry. One can never have too many. Other favorites these days include chicken tacos, clean-out-the-fridge pizza, and Mini Wheats. Not too exciting.

Reading:  I just finished Flora & Ulysses, and it was, “Holy Bagumba!” good. Thanks to my librarian friend, Ann, for the recommendation. I just started another recent Newberry Honor book called Paperboy. (Yes, my reading material of choice is meant for 10 year olds. I’m not ashamed.) I’m also looking forward to starting The Good and Beautiful God next week with our LifeGroup. I admit I was totally sold when I read that my “assignment” the first week was to sleep more. I’m all in.

Listening:  To the sound of the dryer and the dishwasher. And Jay reading me the day’s funniness from the Internets. There is peace in this time of the night.

Singing:  One of my students challenged me to write a song about equilateral, isosceles, and scalene triangles. I’m not singing it yet, but you can bet I will be by the end of the week. Our favorites right now in class are Mean, Median, Mode, & Range to the tune of Home on the Range, and the Perimeter, Area, Volume song to the tune of Oh the Lord’s Been Good to Me. And if you happen to catch me jammin’ in my car on the way to or from work, it’s probably Beautiful Day or Oceans.

Watching:  Sam and Nia. I can’t really tell you what I like about these people. All I know is that watching them makes folding laundry or loading the dishwasher a little easier.

IMG_2457Saying:  Four more days. I think I can, I think I can.

Playing:  Fishbowl. I learned it a few weeks ago at our grown-up game night, then I tried it with my fourth graders and their vocabulary words. Seriously…where was this game when I was a camp counselor??

Hoping:  For lots of time to read this summer. Last week I came home from a yard sale with this stack of books for just $1.

 


Learning:
  How much I love gardening. This weekend we discovered healthy pumpkin plants growing up under the porch where we stashed our discarded Halloween pumpkins. Tonight I replanted three overgrown seedlings from my classroom into my garden at home. We also spotted our first tiny Roma tomato and a big honkin’ bloom on our squash plants. And those cool spiky plants I wrote about here? They are in full bloom and absolutely beautiful. Turns out they are Asiatic lilies. Totally worth the wait.

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I’d love to hear what’s happening currently with you.  Leave me a comment and let me know!

Fractions of an Inch

I just finished a super indulgent, Sunday afternoon nap, and can you guess what was on my list to do first when I finally rolled out of bed? Right up there next to check Facebook, pee, and grab a handful of Hot Tamales? I’m quite surprised by my new obsession, but I couldn’t wait to go outside and take a peek at my plants.

As I walked outside in my bare feet and bed hair, I had to wonder what my neighbors might think. I wonder if they catch me strolling out there, five or six times a day, seemingly inspecting the exact same plants that were there just two hours ago. They can’t possibly be any different, can they? Except they are.

IMG_1498This time I noticed the basil. Not the almost-mature plant that I got at the market because I wasn’t patient enough to wait for some to eat. This time I noticed the teeny tiny seedlings that Papa planted from seed for us to transplant into our own bigger pots. For weeks they’ve looked seemingly exactly the same…no progress. But today, after nap, I noticed new leaves. Specifically I noticed that, just like the bigger plant a few feet away, the baby plants also have leaves that grow at right angles to each other, in perpendicular pairs all the way down the stem. There’s something orderly about the way that basil grows that I think I like.

Last week I watched with anticipation as blooms appeared on these irises and then finally burst into their beautiful, floppy selves.

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Yesterday I found buds on these super spiky stems for which I still don’t know the name. Lillies, maybe?

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Today I noticed the mystery sprouts Chica brought me for Mother’s Day are taller,

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and the once questionable beefsteak tomato plant looks like it just might make a comeback, new healthy leaves sprouting from the center.

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My daily inspections have me pondering growth these days. I’m fascinated by the tiny plants taking root in the dirt, thinking ahead of the fruit I might enjoy in the summer months. The excitement I feel over the fraction-of-an-inch growth and a new leaf or bud or two is great. But I’m constantly looking for it. Slowing down enough to look and compare and be excited.

My morning’s stroll made me wonder if I would see the same kind of tiny but steady growth in my kids if I started slowing down and looking for it. There are the physical things, like the fact that Bubba is now just tall enough to push the green button as we leave his school or dexterous enough to blow bubbles without spilling the bottle three seconds later. That Chica, when motivated, can get dressed from head to toe without it taking two eternities, or put together a 100 piece puzzle without help. But there are also the more important things, the growth I really have to watch for to realize. Like the moment when Chica just went ahead and gave Bubba the book he wanted to carry into the dining room instead of insisting on keeping the one she found first. Or, just now, when Bubba asked for a treat only 6 times (instead of 20 + a tantrum), gave up, and went willingly back downstairs to play.

And what if I celebrated that growth with them? Even more, what if I attempted to water their growth like my thirsty plants at the base of the driveway? I do know the Source of living water, after all.

As much as I am reluctant to go there, I guess I have to. Don’t you think Jesus must be watching us (er…me) with just as much anticipation, searching for that millimeter of growth to celebrate? I know my peppers and cucumbers and tomatoes and squash are likely months from producing fruit, but I keep watching, keep watering, keep celebrating. I’m tempted to think most days that He gives up watching for my growth after months of being stagnant, stuck spinning my wheels with the same regrets and promises for “once the summer comes.”

But now that I’m tending my own little garden, I’m thinking it’s not like that at all. I’m thinking He’s pleased and maybe even celebrating the millimeter steps I take towards Him once in a while. Like the apology I issued my kids after my own mini-meltdown in the parking lot of the Plaza Dollar Tree last Sunday. Or the prayer I prayed with Bubba when I realized all my own words in the world would ever be enough to help him make better choices at school. Or the grace I (however reluctantly) extended to three boys that irked me in a big way last week at school. Millimeter steps. I’d like to think He may rejoice over those tiny steps instead of just thinking that it’s never enough, always waiting for the fruit of the summer.

Maybe I should do the same.

All my changes come from Him
He who never changes
I’m held firm in the grasp
Of the Rock of all the ages

All is well with my soul
He is God, in control I
know not, all His plans
But I know I’m in His hands

All is Well by Robin Mark

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My garden companion this evening, growing bigger every day.  I love that kid.

 

Recipe for a Perfect Spring Saturday

Ingredients:

3 flat miles of creekside trail
5 tiny seedlings of mixed variety (Roma tomatoes, sweet peppers, basil, etc.)
6 classic children’s books on CD
2 dozen pieces of toddler boy clothing (YardSale brand preferred)
3 free market-fresh tomatoes
1 sweet conversation with a finally pregnant friend
6 cubic feet of potting soil
5 hideous orange buckets
4 bowls of ice cream on the porch
2 new pairs of kiddie shoes
6 clean-out-the-fridge quesadillas
80 photographs with a new camera
4 chapters of a Flat Stanley book
2 100-piece puzzles
600 papers to grade

Directions:

  1. Awake late and run three fast miles with a delightful friend. Talk non-stop about school and summer and everything in-between.
  2. Collect seedlings from Master Gardeners, in-laws, Home Depot, and the market. While these are waiting, peruse the library, childless and slowly.
  3. At the yard sale, gather a mound of 4T and 5T clothes for less than the price of one item at the store.
  4. Spot the pudgy belly of a friend while scoping out the first of summer tomatoes. Throw caution to the wind and ask. Celebrate because the fourth time’s a charm for this blessed mama.
  5. Take the whole family to Home Depot to complete Project Bucket Garden. Move quickly to combat the grumpiness that comes with no lunch and no nap.
  6. Soak in the perfect day while eating chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and willing the tiny seedlings to grow.
  7. Catch another whim and take both kids to get summer shoes. Pray your kid will follow through with soccer camp while buying tiny cleats, shin guards, and socks.
  8. Eat dinner with no yelling. Whatsoever.
  9. Practice with the new camera while the little people fight the tree in the front yard, David & Goliath style.
  10. At bedtime, read a book that both mom and baby girl enjoy. Work a puzzle together to fight the I’m-not-tired complaints.
  11. Leave the papers in the car. Don’t worry about them until tomorrow.
  12. Serve it up with joy. In Joy.  Enjoy.

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