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. 🙂

 

Currently Us

Eating
Chica:  Her new-found love is shrimp.  I think the kid could exist on shrimp and mac and cheese alone.  Since school only serves these most favorite foods about once a month, she mostly packs lunch.  Emphasis on she.  Yay for eight.
Bubba:  School lunch.  Thank the Lord for one less thing to do in the morning.
Me:  Also school lunch.  Again…one less thing.

Reading
Chica:  Upside-Down Magic, a book she got at the book fair.  This is slightly better than the Pokemon library book she’s been attached to lately.
Bubba:  Pup & Pop.  It has been so interesting to observe the differences in how the two of them learned to read.  Chica was a whole language girl, guessing most of the words by context and the beginning letter sound.  Bubba wants to sound out ev-er-y-th-ing.
Me:  Teachers’ Knowledge and Its Impact, an article for my VT class.  I’ve wanted to write a blog post all day, but I told myself I had to finish my reflection on this article first.  It hasn’t happened yet, but here I am.  Oh well.

Listening
Chica:  Hamilton.  Right Hand Man is her most frequent request.
Bubba:  Hamilton.  While waiting for the bus, he was singing, “I’ll kill your friends and family to remind you of my love.  Dadadadadaaaaaa….”  Jay sent him off with reminders that this was a line that he could not sing at school.  Fingers crossed.
Me:  Hamilton.  Today may favorite song is Dear Theodosia.  “You will come of age with our young nation…”

Watching
Chica:  Pokemon.  I admit I’ve never watched it.
Bubba:  Pokemon.  Tonight while Jay and Chica made dinner, I asked him to explain it to me.  I heard about gyms and battles and the league and…well….that’s pretty much all I got.
Me:  Jimmy Fallon clips on YouTube.

Saying
Chica:  She’s going to make her Halloween costume.  We’ve got one more day to figure that out.  Ugh.
Bubba:  Yes to more things.  Like this week he said yes to helping me sort recycled materials at school.  We spent an entire hour working together happily.  Who is this new kid?
Me:  I’m going to run the RNUTS.  Yes, I’m pretty sure I AMNUTS.

Playing
Chica:  The violin.  When I remind her.
Bubba:  Anything his buddy Westin is playing.  I love our sweet neighbors.
Me:  The how-long-can-I-keep-my-house-picked-up game.  I’m going on one week.  Chica asked me if this was a record.

Hoping
Chica:  She will finish her Girls on the Run 5K next month.  I am amazed at the confidence she has gained by participating in this.
Bubba:  We will go anywhere but home every day after school.
Me:  I can make it through another week without dropping one of the too many balls I’m juggling.  Last week I turned in my homework late.  I don’t like that feeling, but, realistically I’m on the other side saying, “So what?”  The world keeps turning.  I’ll still pass the class.  Life happens.

Learning
Chica:  Focus and responsibility.  I’m thankful for her teacher who is incredibly patient and understanding.
Bubba:   Ants.  We had an oh-so-engaging dinner conversation this week about how many body sections ants have.  His teacher is always doing something to get that guy thinking!
Me:  How to use tools.  Last week it was a band saw.  Today I watched Jay use a miter saw, and I’m pretty sure I could do it by myself.  Tomorrow I’m going to use a dremel.  Sharon Bulson would be proud.

In case you enjoy looking back as much as I do…
Currently Me 2014
Currently Bubba 2014  (I guess Chica got missed….sorry kid.)
Currently Me 2013
Currently Chica 2013
Currently Bubba 2013

Two Months of Stories

_MG_3447This sweet guy turned three in November.

I don’t believe in birthday parties with friends and favors anymore.  I tried once, but I seemed to botch everything from the budget to the (lack of) pavilion to the sunburn.  So now Nana reminds me each March and November that there’s a birthday coming up in a week or so, and it’s about time to plan something.  And something always seems to turn out to be dinner and cakes at her house with just us.  I’m so thankful.

Bubba’s only request this time was a piñata.  This request, no doubt, was a direct result of la fiesta fantastica de su amigo Weston a few weeks earlier.  Can I just tell you that Party City has a most impressive assortment of piñatas?  Holy cow…..or pirate or bird or Elmo or….you get the picture.  After wandering the aisles trying to talk myself into spending twenty bucks to buy a cardboard Jake for my kid to decapitate, I finally found the perfect choice….

_MG_3422Not only was it a lot easier for me to stomach the decapitation of this creature, but his remains could serve as a perfect prop the following Monday.  Happy Birthday, Bub!  And Happy Dinovember to me!  : )

P.S. Pro-Parent Tip #1113  No need to buy piñata stuffing candies if you are lucky enough to have a November baby.  Just use the Halloween leftovers.  They’ll never know.

———————————————————————

_MG_3552

We had a pre-Thanksgiving weekend getaway with my family at a cabin near Crabtree Falls.  No internet, lots of junk food, and game after game of Blockers at the kitchen table all made for a restful mini vacation.

_MG_3571 My favorite memory from our trip, however, has to be the spontaneous hike that I took with Chica and Grandpa after checking out the frozen creek.  On a whim we decided to explore the hillside that rose behind our cabin.  After a while of up, up, and more up, we could see what appeared to be the top of the hill.  Despite Grandpa’s better judgement, Chica and I just had to see what was on the other side.  When we finally reached it, we discovered a road!  This lead us to a new way back to the house and an exciting adventure story to tell when we returned.

Oh how it will make my mommy heart happy if at least one of my kids grows up to love hiking as much as I do.  This day was a start maybe.

——————————————————————–

_MG_3707

I think violin teachers have super powers.  My kid, who has only been playing for a matter of weeks, stood up there and played her special part of Jingle Bells, and no one ran away screaming.  It was all pretty magical if you ask me.

_MG_3722

My very literal kid insisted on wearing both red and green for the evening performance because these were Mr. Claytor’s directions.  “He said Christmas colors, and Christmas colors are red and green, Mom!”  Got it, Chica.  Got it.

_MG_3730 _MG_3732

——————————————————————————–

Jay went out of town at the beginning of December for his geek work conference.  Whenever I leave town, one of the kids gets sick.  When he leaves, I’m always the one that ends up under the weather. This trip was no exception.  I hurt my back, and after one teary Skype call with my parents, Grandpa was on the way to help me make it through until Jay’s return.

He helped make lunches, took Bubba to school, folded laundry, wrapped presents, and returned library books for me.  But perhaps the most miraculous of all was that I somehow convinced him to agree to put up my Christmas tree.  Wow.

So for weeks it sat in our living room, ornament-less but twinkling proudly with each branch curved just-so in the way that only Grandpas know how to do.  Every few days Chica would remind me that we needed to decorate it, and each time I gave her some lame excuse as to why it wasn’t a good time.  Finally I told her on the Saturday night before Christmas that it wouldn’t happen until the den was clean, and I sarcastically added that she was more than welcome to help me work on it Sunday morning.

Whadaya know?  That kid was up before the sun with her sweet little voice at my bedside, “Mommy, I’m ready to help you clean the den.”  Heart be still….and feet on the floor!  Chop, chop!

So we did it.  She made trip after trip after trip to the sink and Bubba’s room and Mommy’s closet as we put away all the junk that had accumulated at the front door dropping spot for weeks.

Then we were done.  And there was this…

_MG_3779 _MG_3782 _MG_3783 _MG_3788

Mostly Chica did all the work.  I fulfilled my obligation of getting the breakable ornaments sufficiently out of reach, but I let her do everything else.  Bubba lost interest pretty quickly, so the other three of us ended up snuggling on the couch while we encouraged her.

No worries that 3/4 of the ornaments are on the bottom 1/3 of the tree.  No worries that the tacky beaded garland crisscrosses in odd patterns.  No worries that more and more of the ornaments are made from recycled “treasures” like old CDs and toilet paper rolls.  It is just perfect if you ask me.

_MG_3785

—————————————————————————

And finally…

photo (7)

Would it be crazy to say that this particular moment might be my most favorite memory of all Christmas break?

The week before, our life group discussed joy.  I must admit that that night I was so mired down and worn out by work funk and the never-ending back pain that I just couldn’t conjure up a memory that I could definitely name joy.  Happiness?  Sure.  Joy?  Not sure.

But this moment?  It was as if Bubba’s pink sleepy cheeks were screaming out to me, “JOY lady!  Right here! Look around you!  Wake up!”

Joy in…
This kid who never tires of snuggles.
That daddy who snuggles back so I could keep doing whatever it was that I was doing.
The other kid reading to herself in the other room.
A husband who folds laundry.
And that same husband who remembers to buy batteries well in advance of Christmas.
A tree strewn with presents that reminded us how to play together again.

But mostly joy in remembering in my core, in that moment, that not one of those things is something that I deserve, something I’ve earned.  Each is a gift from a Creator that loves me in a way that is oh so much deeper and truer than snuggles and folded laundry and batteries.  But He uses those things, the take-your-breath-away pink cheeks, to give us just a little taste.  To remind us.  To wake us up.

May your New Year be filled with moments that whisper or shout or just straight-up declare to you, “JOY!”  And may we together learn how to look and listen.

————————————————————

P.S. I’m taking a Facebook break, friends.  Mostly it’s about regaining some of the enormous amount of time I waste there.  I’m thinking, though, that less time wasted means more sleep.  And more sleep might mean eyes wider open to watch out for those opportunities for joy.  I’ll try to let you know how it goes.

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!

 

This Wasn’t Supposed to Be Bath Day

Tonight at dinner, as Chica leaned toward her plate of pizza, I noticed something in the part of her blonde little head.  It was orange.  Like spray tan orange.  And since I’m sure she hadn’t found any spray tan in kindergarten or at home, there could be only one other cause for this:  playground dirt.  Lovely.

So together Daddy and I tried to explain the importance of not throwing dirt at school.  I’m pretty sure all of the best grown up reasons for not throwing dirt don’t really translate to a five year old:  Mommy will have to bathe you every day instead of the slacker routine of every other (or more?!?) day.  And that orange tint never really washes out of your clothes.  Or mainly just because you really don’t want to be “that kid.”

So while I was busy bathing both kids on this usual no-bath day, I had a few minutes to think.  Mainly I thought about how many memories I’ve let slip away because I haven’t been writing lately.  As I scrubbed out that orange glow, I made myself promise I’d jot a few recent memories down tonight.  The parent e-mails to compose and Jeopardy game to create and the science quizzes to grade and the guided notes to be typed can all wait.  It will wait.  So in no particular order…

*We bought deck furniture last weekend.  We’ve eaten every dinner since Sunday out there.  And when dinner is done, Chica asks to go play on the front porch.  It’s like she has momentarily forgotten that we own a TV because it is so nice outside.  Perfect.
*Tonight my two little people played together without arguing.  I just sat and watched.  Chica would throw the Frisbee down the hill.  Bubba would chase after it and return it to her.  Over and over and over.  He didn’t seem to care at all that he was essentially playing fetch and the one doing all the work.
*Chica can all of a sudden make paper airplanes on her own.  Daddy’s off the hook now.
*Last night Jay made me go to bed, and he did all the dishes.  That is some real love right there.
*Bubba’s really developing his own little sense of humor these days.  One night during his bedtime story he let out two really good toots in a row.  Without skipping a beat, he says in his low, old man voice, “Funny.”
*The last two nights as we’ve read Good Night Moon, Bubba has insisted on finding the mouse on every single page.  I was just about to write about how annoyed we both were by the fact that there was one page without a mouse, but I just found it!  Ha!  I can’t wait to show him tomorrow now.
*Chica insists on asking me every morning if I’m driving the speed limit.  What’s up with that?  One day when I told her no, she of course asked why.  Stupidly, I said, “Cause we’re late, that’s why.”  To which she replied, “Oh…so if you are late and in a rush, then it’s ok to go faster than the speed limit?”  Well…ummmm…no.  Ok, fine.  I’ll slow down.
*Bubba is nearly two and still not sleeping through the night most nights.  These days he walks himself into our room anywhere from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m., rubs his cold hands on my arm, and says sweetly, “Hi, Mommy.  Up please.”  I don’t have the energy it takes to say no, so there are three of us in the bed at wake up time every morning.  This too shall pass I guess.
*And finally…ever since Chica was really little, we’ve always had prayers as part of our bedtime routine.  I do the same with Bubba now.  At first he would just make whisper noises for a few moments and then give a big, hearty, “Amen!” when he was done.  Later I realized that he was trying to copy some of the same things that I was praying.  So guess how my prayers go these days?  “Dear God, thank you for a good day. Thank you for Bubba.  Please give Mommy peace tonight.  Please give Mommy peace tomorrow.”  So then, without fail, Bubba’s prayers sound like this:

“Pssspspppsss Mommy sspspsssppss peace sssdpssss Bubba  spspssss Mommy peace.  AMEN!”

Amen to that, Bubba!  AMEN!

Three Memories

I promised myself time to write tonight after I answered all of my e-mails and finished planning for school tomorrow.  2.5 hours later, here I am.  Sheesh.  Whatever interesting ideas I did have for a blog post are long gone and clouded with directory edits, make up work for so-and-so that will be absent next week, and figuring out how I might possibly be in three places all at once on Thursday at 8 a.m.

So instead I have just two memories to report.  No, three.

One. Yesterday Chica came home with paint all over a brand new shirt.  Grouchy Mom asked, “What happened to your shirt???” as we were rushing into Kroger for dinner essentials.  Then Amazed Mom listened as Chica retold the magic that is Kindergarten.

“Oh…we painted.  And we didn’t have to use smocks.  We painted the Aurora Borealis.  I used three colors.  It was like dancing lights.”  And on and on she went about the Northern Lights and the poles and the magnets and the sun and the universe and her friends’ guesses.  Magic, I tell you.  Kindergarten is magic.  Who cares about the shirt?

Two.  What day is it?  It’s HUMP DAY!  And everyone at our (brand new, really awesome) dinner table declared that fabulous fact no less than 50 times tonight over dinner.  It just didn’t matter how many times Bubba said, “Hup Daaaaay!”  It’s funny every time.

Three.  Yesterday one of my sweet students found out I didn’t know how to play chess.  (I know, right?  That should totally be a requirement in my current position…I’m a little behind.)  Before the end of the day today, she had asked me at least three times if she could teach me.  While we waited for buses, she did.  The chess set she picked from my closet for us to use had little symbols on the pieces to tell you how you can move.  Apparently fourth graders can teach old dogs new tricks.  I was just about getting it when her bus was called.  I’m already looking forward to a rematch tomorrow.

How about you…collect any memories today?

Eighteen Gifts Before Nap Time

70.  Accidentally sleeping in.
71.  Nana, who was keeping the kids, so that I could accidentally sleep in.
72.  Leftover pizza for breakfast, washed down with buttered tomato biscuits.
73.  My Saturday morning running group.  So. Fun.
74.  A new friend who slowed down to run with me while I (slowly) pushed my clunky stroller.
75.  Chica’s sweet spirit as we walked from the Depot to the Market.  “Mom…It’s just like we are on a play date.  I like being with you.”
76.  The zigs and the zags.  As we walked the new Lower Bluff Walk up from 9th Street to Commerce, Chica said, “Now we’re on the zig!”  And then we’d make a turn, and call, “And now this is the zag!”  Thanks to the zigs and the zags, we got up a really steep hill very quickly!
77.  The Community Market.  I can’t say enough how much I love that pace on a summer Saturday morning.
78.  The two tiny little kids eating some great big peaches on the back of a farm truck while their momma worked.  The older of the two was double fisting it, and the little girl had juice just pouring down her bib.  What I wouldn’t have done for my camera in that moment.  It was so perfect.
79.  The guy with the goat cheese.  Man, he is one friendly dude, even when I sample his stuff every week and only seem to buy it every thirteenth visit or so.  I’m thinking next week’s the week.  I’m might go for the spicy pimento flavor…it’s a winner.
80.  That extra $20 I found stashed in a pocket of the diaper bag.  The $4 I found in my wallet wasn’t going to make it very far.  My kitchen table is still loaded with tomatoes, new potatoes, green beans, zucchini, squash, an onion, Gala apples, and cucumbers.  This summer is going out with a bang.
81.  The lady who piled my bucket of apples til overflowing.  We had already devoured three of them before we were even home.
82.  A calm moment to just sit at the fountain and watch Bubba gnaw on an apple core while Chica hunted for pebbles.  The music, the little kids dancing, the bigger kids rolling down the hill…grabbing my kairos moment for the day right there.
83.  Living room picnics.
84.  Bubba’s giggles and giddiness when I finally convinced him to swing with me.
85.  Free hotdogs at Miller Park.  And that orange paste that can only be a result of kids eating Cheetos.
86.  Pre-K teachers that are (and always will be) magical.
87.  Nap time.  I’m certain I’ve probably already listed this somewhere in my list of 87, but I’m also certain it’s just that good of a gift to mention multiple times.  I know this won’t be the last.

From Two Thousand to Four

I did it.  It’s past 12:00 and my eyes are straining to focus, but I did it.  I cleaned out my inbox of over 2,000 old e-mails.  There are four left:  the teacher workday schedule for the next few days, two e-mails I need to return but am not ready to compose, and a “don’t forget to look into this cool opportunity” reminder.  Phew.

I’m excited to say that this purging of stuff hasn’t been limited to my inbox.  I’ve spent the last three days at school working on clearing out space in my classroom.  My filing cabinet, closet, bookshelves, and cabinet all now have that fresh, organized look that I seem capable of only maintaining for a few weeks at best.  I still have my desk, sink cabinet, and a few (huge) boxes of papers to go, but the hard work has already been done.  I…no….we got this.  Being ruled by peace over here.

I have many things to say tonight about organization and creativity and friends and writing and my little family and, and, and.  But it’s late, and everything’s a bit fuzzy, so I’m just not sure I can articulate anything more than this….

I was struck as I read the subject and first line of each e-mail tonight how memories almost forgotten flooded back to me:

A hurricane.  A school shooting.  The death of a dear friend.  Congratulations for a contest won.  Struggles with students that ended with thankful e-mails from parents.  Room moms from heaven.  A huge project with an old friend. The green light to try a new and crazy strategy.  I need a sub…my kid is sick again.  I am one of the only five people that hasn’t turned something in…again.    And meeting after meeting after meeting.

So what did I learn from those memories?  I’ve sat here waiting for the last five sleepy minutes or so just trying to figure that out.  I think maybe I’ve got it.

When I was a kid, or maybe a teenager, and I would get overly stressed out about some assignment, my mom would always ask me something like, “In five years, will this matter?  If the answer is no, then don’t worry about it.  Get it done, but don’t obsess over it.”

As I recalled many of those memories, I felt again the panic that was such a part of the moment.  Unnecessary panic, I see now, because even just six months later, that thing, whatever it was, already doesn’t matter.

I’ve said it already, but I’m just going to keep speaking it and writing it and praying it.  This year will be different.  This year I plan to trade the panic for a focus on the things above.  A view of the stuff that will matter in six months.  In five years. 

Did my students see a peaceful, Christ-like attitude?
Did my students hear me apologize when it wasn’t so Christ-like?
Did they know that I believe they are capable and important and unique?
Did they come away loving learning and with more questions than they had when they arrived?

These last three days I’ve thrown out over 2,000 e-mails, 5 trashcans full of junk, 4 crates of paper to recycle, and a whole counter full of teacher stuff in my, “Free, Take Me,” pile.  You know teachers just pass around each other’s junk, right?  It takes a long time for stuff to actually make it to the dumpster!

But I have some more to throw away, I realize.  And no, I don’t mean recycle or the Take Me table…because you don’t need it either!

So tonight I continue to purge:
Worry.  Panic.  Frenzy.  Impatience.  Disorder.  Insecurity.  Anger.  Hurry.

More room for peace that way.

 

 

 

 

Gifts #38-69

Thirty-one gifts to celebrate my thirty-first birthday:

38. Cucumbers, prickly off the vine.
39. A little boy that is learning to help. Today Bubba helped me sort clothes into a box and a giveaway pile as I pulled them out of the drawer.
40. Skype & FaceTime. I had visited with both my mom and mother-in-law by the end of breakfast today.
41. Birthday wishes from Facebook friends. Just wow.
42. A husband that tells me he still has the hots for me.
43. Birthday cards in the mail. Even one from Jay…that takes some pre-planning. Impressed!
44. Bubba’s, “Hi Mommy,” that skips up a note (or three) at the end.
45. Nights and mornings with just one kid. Thanks Nana!
46. Wal-mart trips that don’t end in tears or great embarrassment.
47. Unexpected mid-morning naps followed by the usual afternoon nap.
48. Catching up with a dear friend after what must have been a year.
49. A happy birthday text from a friend that doesn’t have Facebook.
50. Bubba’s new way with words. Tonight on the way home he said, “Mommy, make it sing,” and pointed to the front of the car. After a few wrong guesses, we realized he meant the radio. Smart kid.
51. Hand-me-down clothes from sweet friends.
52. Summer tomatoes. The only kind worth eating, really.
53. Time and peace to read. I actually sat down and read a bit of a book today. Granted, it was followed very shortly by a few minutes of snoozing, but I did read, nonetheless.
54. Witnessing a friend using her gifts in a big way. Read her post. You’ll be blessed.
55. Chica’s delight as we picked out school supplies. “Is this for me? My OWN glue?!”
56. Leftovers for lunch. I almost took a picture it was so good.
57. The neighbor friend who can always pull Chica away from the TV.
58. Good hair days. Yeah…that was vain. 31 gifts is just a little harder than I thought.
59. God’s timing. He has worked so many things out recently, better than I could have orchestrated myself. I’m trusting that he will do the same for our move at the end of this month.
60. Deer in the front yard.
61. Spying a hummingbird perched on a branch.
62. Neighbors who offer up the leftovers from their thornless blackberry bush.
63. The first twenty minutes after Jay gets home from work. I love those moments of reviewing our day for each other.
64. Bow ties. And one particular man who wears them well. Mmmmm.
65. A weekend full of FUN plans followed by yet another week of no school.
66. Bubba’s talent for lip-syncing. Today it was to some Christmas Barbie toy of Chica’s.
67. The Wal-mart lady who willingly packed my school supplies separately from my groceries.
68. The feeling of peace as I made lunch today. Two months ago I would have used any word other than peace to describe this part of the day.
69: Time to write and be thankful.

Bubba Turn

Bubba has this super cute cyber buddy who writes a great blog.  Drakeson is a whole year younger than Bubba, so I figured Bubba shouldn’t have too much trouble giving it a try.  When I asked him if he was up for blogging about his day, he agreed.  Actually, he said, “Bubba turn!”

I have posted his dictated words first and then the translation for those of you still learning Toddler Talk.  I do a lot of translating these days.

Eat Mommy.  Bar.  Applesauce.  Bubba pickle.  Bubba oatmeal.  Cake no like it.  

Mommy slept in all the way until 7:00 or something.  Lazy bones.  I had to beg her to get up so I could eat.  She needs lots of reminders.  At first I asked for my usual cereal bar and applesauce.  But then I remembered it was Saturday, and we sometimes eat special things on the weekend.  So I asked for pickles and oatmeal.  I don’t really like pancakes.  Even when they put chocolate chips in them.  Pancakes are for big people.

Mommy shoes on.  Walk.  Mommy car.  Stroller.  Big water.  Night night.

After breakfast Mommy put on her running shoes, not the flip-flops that she usually wears.  I know this means we are going for a walk.  Together we drove to Percival’s Isle where I didn’t get to walk…I had to ride in the dumb stroller.  I was hoping to stay awake to see the river where you go over the second bridge, but Mommy’s friends just bored me right to sleep.  They talk too much.

Mommy car.  That one. That one.  Eat Mommy.  That one.  Sister seat?  Home.

When we got back in the car, Mommy called Daddy to tell him we had to go to the store.  Something about a care package for a friend at summer camp.  I don’t know what care packages or summer camp are, but she sure got a lot of cool stuff.  I kept pointing out other good ideas for her, but she didn’t really like my advice.  I again had to remind her to feed me, so I got goldfish out of the deal.  I asked Mommy a bunch of times where Sister was.  All she said is that shopping is easier without Chica.  Something about not having to answer a million questions.  FINALLY she took me home…shopping took forever.

Eat.  Night Night.  Elmo’s World.

This is what I do every afternoon.  No news here.

Bubba shoes on.  Walk.  Sister play. Wilson?  Willlllllsonnnnn?   Look.  Have it.  Welcome Mommy.  Apple.  Apple yucky.  Bubba apple?  Mommy apple?  Deer apple.  That way.  Slide.  Bubba do it.  That one.  Ant.  Swing.  More.  More.  That way.  Up.  Welcome Mommy.  Hug.  Home.  Eat applesauce.  Wilson?

IMG_0382This was obviously the best part of my day…totally worth putting my shoes on for.  Mommy took me on a walk without Sister because she was playing with our neighbor friend.  This meant I actually got to walk and not have to ride in that stupid stroller.  It also meant me and Mommy could talk.  I never get in a word when you-know-who is around.

First I asked Mommy if she knew where Wilson was.  That’s my friend’s cat.  She didn’t, so we tried calling him, but he didn’t come.  When we got to the top of the street, I asked to look at the magnolia tree like Sister always does.  Mommy got me one of those dried up flowers to carry.  I thought about how cool Mommy is, and I told her thank you without even being asked.  Mommies like that stuff.

We found these little apples between our street and the park, but Mommy says they are yucky.  She wouldn’t let me eat them, and she wouldn’t try them, but she said the deer might.  I knew she was trying to distract me with the apple talk when we walked past the street the park is on, but I didn’t let her get away with it.  Once we were in there, I tricked her and said we should go swing, but really I was thinking about the slide the whole time.  She actually let me go down the slide by myself, but she sure didn’t look like she was having as much fun as I was.  Mommy gets all panicky and jumpy around that slide.  She told me to ask Grandma about it.  I’ll ask her tomorrow.

We played on the wooden playground, rode the tire swing together, and then I tried the baby swing just to make Mommy happy. She was right.  It was fun.  Mommy took a lot of pictures, but I think this is the only one that shows how fun it was.

IMG_0396

When we left the park, you know what she let me do?  She let me walk on the high wall outside the old school building just like Chica always does.   I think this means I’m big now.  I told her thank you again because she was being so fun.  Ok, nevermind.  I really just wanted a ride on her shoulders.  This was a long walk.  Then I got tired of riding on her shoulders, and thought that if I asked for a hug, she would just carry me regular.  It didn’t work.  By then I couldn’t wait to get home and eat applesauce.  I didn’t see Wilson when we got home either.  I’m starting to get worried about that guy.  Do you think he’s still my friend?

Boogie-woogie sunshine.  Bubba shoes on.  Sister ice cream.  Mommy ice cream.  Daddy ice cream.

I did my usual stand-up sit-down comedy routine after dinner.  I wonder how long they’ll laugh at the same old material.  Then something weird but wonderful happened.  I had to put my shoes on AGAIN because we were going out for….wait for it……ice cream!  Even though Daddy got me my own this time, I still tried everybody else’s.  I wonder how long I’ll get away with that too.  In the end I shared mine with Chica because I was full on all the other kinds.  Mommy pointed out how nicely I was sharing, and Sister said something about about flies and honey and vinegar.  What the what?  Girls are so weird.

Bubba bed.  Sister read.  Belly book.  Mommy night night.  

I wasn’t very tired when Sister started reading to me tonight.  What’s up with her trying to put me to bed this week, huh?  Anyway, she read my favorite, the Belly Book, and a bunch others.  But I just wasn’t tired, so Sister had to get Mommy.  Then they both helped me go to sleep.  Bonus.

Hmm….I wonder if I play my cards just right, if I can get all three of them to put me to bed tomorrow night.  I think I’ll give it a try.