Albert the Mowse, Hurry, & Anger

The offers:
Sweet Frog with Daddy.
Rides at the mall with brother.
Rivermont Pizza with the whole fam.

The choice:
Late night writing and reading with Mom.

I love that kid.

Chica had a good week at school.  After the fourth positive note home in her agenda, I told her we would celebrate with a treat of her choice if she brought home a fifth.  Her snaggle-tooth grin coming off the bus Friday afternoon told me she had made it.  On the way home we brainstormed ideas.

“Maybe…..maybe…..” she hesitated, never quite hearing the offer that was, to her, worth five long days of self-control and focus.  I thought for sure I had her at Rivermont Pizza.  Or at least I hoped I had her at Rivermont Pizza.  (I’m thinking I’m picking that as my reward next weekend if I can keep my own self together for five good days in a row.)

So tonight on the way home from Nana’s neighborhood picnic I reminded her that she hadn’t yet chosen a reward.  “Time’s up…you need to pick.”

“Ok.  I want to stay up as late as I want.  Can I write another story?”

Be still my little teacher heart.

After waiting for what seemed like an eternity for Bubba to fall asleep, we finally got busy.  She didn’t have a story idea ready to go like the last one, so I helped her find a little inspiration here.  It took possibly 37 spins, but she finally decided to go with a mouse named Albert that liked to dig holes.  She also decided this second novel of hers would be typed on Mommy’s computer.  We would then print it and illustrate each page.  Whoa.  Big time.  Let’s do it.  Except…

FYI:  A first grader typing anything is slow.  Painfully slow.

“E.  I need an e.  Where’s the e?  Eeeeeeee?  Oh. Here it is!  E.  Got it.  Ok, now…”

Times 90 for the first page.  Yes, I did check.  Bless her.

I almost said it.  90 times, even.  You know, those two words that rhyme with “blurry cup” and flow off my lips like they are her middle and last name.  But there was absolutely nowhere to hurry to.  She didn’t have to go to bed yet.  I didn’t have to do school work.  Jay had given me from 7am to 5pm of uninterrupted time to work, and finished or not, that’s enough.  I wasn’t going to do house work either.  I’m saving that for tomorrow.

Instead I just let it go slowly.  We tried about five different spellings of said before landing on the right one.  We learned about how backspace goes one way and delete goes the other.  We right-clicked the squiggly red line to find better ways to spell mowse and backyorad.  Once Chica moved from typing to dictating, we discussed quotation marks and synonyms for said.  Daddy even came up to hear our story and made us talk about verb tenses.  After she had had enough of her mowse story for the night, we moved to reading a little Junie B.  While we read our two chapters, instead of our nightly normal of one, we discussed the finer details of good sportsmanship and why Junie B.’s antics made Chica want to hide her eyes.

Slowly we wrote.  Slowly we read.  Slowly we talked.  Until exactly 10:47 when she rubbed her tired eyes and agreed it was time.  What a great choice of a reward, Chica.  Better than pizza, even.  Thank you.

I just keep coming back to something I heard recently in a sermon about pressure:

There is always anger in hurry.

And the more I think about it, the more I realize this is so true.

Hurry up, Chica!  Read:  I’m mad that we aren’t out of the house yet.  I still have seven more things I need to do, so find your shoes on your own already!

Hurry up, Bubba!  Read:  I’m angry that you’re taking so freaking long to get out of the car.  I should have gotten up five minutes earlier, but I’m going to blame our tardiness on you.

Hurry up, kid in my class that is always the last one to finish!  Read:  I’m angry that I planned more for this day than we can actually accomplish.  I’m really angry that I’m expected to teach you more in this year that anyone can actually accomplish.

So tomorrow I plan to not hurry the finish of the story of Albert the mouse.  I have no need to be angry.

And this week?  As contradictory as it seems, I’m going to try to fight the inevitable pressure by slowing down.  No need to be angry.

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If, Then

If you see me in few weeks, and it looks like my right arm is way buffer than my left arm, then you are probably right.  Our jogging stroller is waaaay out of alignment, and the only way to keep it from constantly veering left is to bear down on the right.  Ugh.

If you see Bubba and me out and about, and he doesn’t have any shoes on, then know that he had them on when we left the house.  He insists on going barefoot these days, and he can get there in about 5.2 seconds.

If I pass on your homemade dessert or that third piece of pizza, then assume that I’m still sticking with the diet I’ve been attempting since Sunday.  The last time I stuck to any sort of plan, I was still nursing….it’s amazing how many more calories that affords you!

If I can’t figure out a way to get Chica to stop picking her nose and eating her boogers (AHHH!) soon, then she will most definitely become THAT KID.  An extreme amount of shame hasn’t really done any good….I need a new tactic.  How did we get here?!?!?!?

If both (or even just one) of my kids manage to become well-adjusted adults in spite of me plastering TMI all over the internets, then I’ll be amazed.

If you lay down next to Bubba to try to get him to fall asleep, then expect to be kissed on the mouth at least 20 times.  I pity his future wife.

If it takes an hour to get both kids to fall asleep, then it becomes really obvious what to spend my last 150 calories on before bed…wine and chocolate.

If I write a really random if-then post, then I hope my friends will leave me a comment with their best if-then of the day!

A Few Letters I’ve Been Meaning to Write

Dear New Mommy Friend,

I thought about you and your first week back to work when I was loading the dishwasher last night.  I had this memory of trying to squeeze 37 pump parts and bottle parts into the dishwasher every evening….and then trying to find a place for the real dishes.  This too shall pass, and I’m pretty sure you won’t miss it.  I’m guessing there were tears shed this week.  Those are tears well spent, my dear.

Dear Students,

I couldn’t be prouder of you this week.  When you decided as a group, without my help, to include that little guy (who is very hard to include) in your kickball game, I just stood there in amazement.  And you even let him take a turn as roller, the most coveted of positions.  You made his day, his teacher’s day, and my day.  You rock.

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Dear Neighbor Kid,

Bubba adores you.  And I don’t think it’s just because you wear sunglasses, but that’s at least one of the reasons.  He wants to be just like you.

Dear Weather,

I like you.  Do you like me?  Check yes or no.  You would think I would have learned my lesson with a very similar (and humiliating) note I passed in my sixth grade English class.  Guess not.

Dear Person Who Eyed My Belly and Asked If I Was Expecting,

I thought of you as I grabbed my third cheddar biscuit at church dinner tonight.  The only thing I’m expecting is a little self-control to show up one of these days.

Dear Bubba,

This evening when you hurled on my new shoes, your only shoes, and my Bible, at least you missed Daddy’s computer.  Thanks, and good aim.

Dear Jay,

Tonight when I was hosing the puke off the porch, I overheard your conversation with Bubba.  You told him that what I was doing separated the good mommies from the great mommies.  I thought the same thing about you (except good daddies/great daddies, of course) later as you calmly talked Chica down from her crazy fear of bugs for the umpteenth time.  Thanks for protecting all of us from the scary things.  I love you.

Don’t Look Down (Or Around, Or Up, Or Anywhere, Really)

Tomorrow during stations I’ll give my kids 15 minutes to write about the overnight field trip we enjoyed this week.  I thought I’d give it a try myself.  I have way more than 15 minutes worth of stuff to say, but I’m hitting “publish” at 9:40.  Go!

…and I’ve already wasted five of my 15 minutes looking for just the perfect way to start.  Of course.

So let’s just skip straight to the best part.  The Alpine Tower.  It’s this crazy cross between a climbing tower and an obstacle course.  I watched probably 20 kids go ahead of me, and a few determined ones made it to the top.  It was time to go to lunch, but one of the super-cool counselors said I could still climb.  I guess that’s one of the perks of being a teacher….like skipping ahead of students in the lunch line.

I climbed the first stair section with no problem, and then came to the point where I had watched more than one student lose their confidence.  This was going to be much harder than it looked from the ground.

Since I have only two more minutes until my self-inflicted deadline, I’ll spare you the details and get to the point.  It was hard.  I don’t usually get too scared on these types of things, but today I did.  My students would repeatedly give each other the routine advice, “Don’t look down,” but I decided that’s not enough.  It seemed to me that if I looked up or down or out or anywhere other than right in front of me, I started to doubt that I had it in me to reach the top.

And thanks to many, many years of debriefing training at camp, I couldn’t help but draw the parallel to the everyday.  Sometimes the task or path in front of you (or above, in this case) is way too overwhelming to see all at once.  And that’s why it’s so perfect that in those times, only tiny next steps get revealed, one at a time….

Put your right foot on that cable.

Spend this next 30 minutes reading a book to your kid.

Now reach for the rope ladder.

Write that e-mail you’ve been thinking about all day.

Sit down on the edge.

Don’t worry about that, and just go to bed.

————————————————————

So I made it to the top.  Myself and a rather spindly little girl in my class actually made it at the exact same moment.  We air high-fived each other on the platform, and felt oh-so-full of ourselves all the way to lunch.

To end, I must make one correction that I have figured out only now:  You have to look down.  You have to look down because the guy with the rope and the directions and the view of the whole big tower is down there.  You have to make eye contact and listen to hear that next tiny step.

I know I’m not ready for the whole big plan, but I’m feeling a renewed sense of need to look more often in the direction of the One who’s got the rope and the view.  Time to start making some eye contact and listening.

Oh, and an hour and 15 minutes later, I think I figured out that 15 minutes won’t be enough time for my students to write about our trip either.  It was that good.

Quick…Write! It’s Nap Time!

I’ve bought myself a few moments for writing.

After a slow morning of pancakes, reading, and Play-doh, it’s my turn to retreat.  When the big kid finally went off to nap and the little one snuggled in next to Daddy to watch TV, I contemplated how I might spend a few stolen moments alone.  It would be easiest to veg away my time browsing Facebook or conquering more levels on an iPad game I’m ashamed to admit I’m crazy about.  And my Achiever self says I should probably spend these minutes grading papers or planning lessons.  But I’m choosing this instead.  It’s probably only because I’m finally headed toward well rested that I am thinking clearly enough to realize that this will leave me feeling better than vegging or grading.  So here I am.

I have no plan, other than to fill in some of the gaps between my sporadic posts lately.  Just filling in a few pages of the Memembery Book so that the mememberies don’t vanish. Prepare for random…

  • I’ve been living it up the last two weekends thanks to the cash I won in the video contest.  Last weekend Ruth and I spent Friday night at a swanky girls-only fundraiser.  We both admitted ahead of time that we were a bit nervous that we were going to be way out of our league at this event.  But we breathed a collective sigh of relief when we pulled into the parking lot and agreed we were at least as cool as the car of ladies getting out beside us.  So we got over ourselves and made a big ol’ night of it….facials, massages, up-do’s, manicures, pictures, caricatures, and (unashamedly) four plates at dinner.  Sure, all the pampering was fun, but the best part was conversation with a friend uninterrupted by little people.  Thankful.
    friends!
  • Last night Ruth and her daughter watched those little people so that Jay and I could go out and spend the rest of the contest money.  We thoroughly enjoyed a most relaxing dinner at the Melting Pot.
    dinner
    Again the best part?  Getting to that point in the conversation when we had to think about what to talk about next.  We never get there these days because conversations we try to have are interrupted by discourses on My Little Pony, moo-ing (Bubba’s latest trick), or just pure exhaustion.  After dinner, despite our less than ideal footwear, we strolled down the mall, holding hands…both to keep warm and to remind ourselves that it is just as good as nine years ago.  No…it’s better.
  • My body has made a very clear statement in the last few weeks that I am not getting any younger.  (Oh…that reminds me of a funny story to tell you next.  Don’t let me forget.)  For two or three weeks I was waking up with a terrible headache every morning.  My first suspect was the glass of cheap wine I was enjoying the night before, so I begrudgingly gave that up.  No difference.  More than one friend and half-way trustworthy internet source suggested dehydration, so I now have nearly a half-dozen empty water bottles lying beside my bed.  When that didn’t work either, I decided I had to try more sleep.  Whadaya know…it worked.   I’ve always needed more sleep than Jay, but I’m finally coming to the point of admitting to myself that there is nearly nothing worth sacrificing for feeling well rested in the morning.  No blog posts, no lesson plans, and certainly no Facebook updates, or iPad games.  Sheesh.
  • This week on the way to school Chica asked me how many days it was until her birthday.  I did the quick math and told her she had 31 days.  She replied, “31?!  If you put all those days together, that’s how big Daddy is!”  And before my brain could figure out just what she meant, she continued, “Daddy is 31.  No way!  What a coincidence!”  I love that kid.
  • Thanks to a very gentle push from Bubba’s teacher this week, we are done with bottles.  I had been reluctant to try to get rid of them because I feared bedtime without them.  True to his stubborn self, he is basically refusing the sippy cup at all costs, but he’s still going to sleep.  I’ll take it.  He’ll come around.
  • One of my most favorite things these days is reading to Chica.  We’re about halfway through Laura Ingalls Wilder’s On the Banks of Plum Creek.  I’m repeatedly amazed at how 75 years later, the important themes of childhood haven’t changed any…obedience, stretching the truth, comparison, mean girls, discovery, play, just to name a few.  I love hearing Chica interpret Laura’s actions through her own little 2013 brain.
  • I’m a little nervous to even write about this last memembery, but one of my friends took a bold step in the same direction this week, so I will too.  Earlier this school year I was invited to take part in two writing projects.  I turned one in this week, ahead of the deadline.  Miracles.  I have plans to finish the second during Spring Break.  Of course I’m looking forward to that week for days of not having to pack lunches and wearing sweatpants all day, but I also can’t wait for time to write without the nagging feeling that I should be getting something ready for school.  I’m so thankful for discovering a new passion in writing over this past year.  I’m not sure I have the confidence yet to just bust out and call myself a writer, but I might be getting there.

Ok….so JK on that being the last memembery.  This is really the last one.  I usually let Jay read my posts before hitting publish.  When I went into the den to bring him the computer, I found a memembery that needs no extra words:

sleeping

Thanks for the time to write, Jay.  I know it was hard work.  : )

 

 

 

My Week From A to Z

Art Show:  My students’ recycled materials art was featured in a real-live art gallery this weekend during First Fridays.  They were a true hit, and we had so much fun!

Breast Cancer:  Two young women in my life, both with young kids, have gotten this diagnosis in recent weeks.  Many thoughts going their way.

Compliment:  Earlier this week I read my students a prize-winning poem that I wrote in high school.  When I was finished, one student chimed in and said, “Mrs. Proffitt, you’re a better writer than <The Other Teacher> is at math.”  I’ll take it.

Doughnut:  On our surprise two hour delay Friday, I decided to head to school at the normal time to get a little extra work done.  At some point during the morning, this announcement was made, “Attention staff, if you are here this early, you deserve an award.  I have some doughnuts I bought for a meeting this morning that ended up being cancelled.  Come get one!”  You better bet I was there.  See J.

Explosions:  I’ve had just about enough of Bubba’s bodily fluids this week.  Sheesh.

Field trip:  Planning is underway for our fourth grade overnight trip.  Bring it.

Grandma:  She totally saved the day, or two, this week.  She spent Thursday and Friday with Bubba.  See E.

Hundredth Day:  Ruth and I have been planning a celebration that will bring our students’ together…mostly so we have an excuse to work on a project together again.  Check out our silliness in the video we made to introduce the day’s activities to our students.

iTunes:  When Jay’s accompanist cancelled at 6:00 a.m. this morning, iTunes saved the day.

Jeans:  When you only own two pairs of jeans, and one begins to not fit, it’s time to do something about it.  (I type with a candy cane in hand mouth.)  See W.

Knee surgery:  Chica’s nana had a knee replacement this week.  She’s one tough cookie.  See W.

Laughter:  My students continue to crack me up.  This week I was trying to get them hyped for converting fractions into decimals with a fake “crime” they had to solve.  “When you finish your warm up, come get the evidence sheet and you’ll be on the case!”  Which was followed by, “Mrs. Proffitt….is this is real case or like a worksheet case?”  I couldn’t help but laugh.

Mouth to mouth:  Bubba has a recent fascination with kissing, except it’s more like he’s trying to resuscitate you.  Not sure what to do about that….

Newspaper:  In my endless attempts to entertain a 14 month old, I recalled a memory of making tubes out of rolled up newspaper as a kid.  Bubba enjoyed hitting things with them, and Chica pretended they were her old woman cane.  See Y.

Outside:  Chica and the neighbor kid have spent much of their evenings and weekend exploring the woods beside our house.  It figures that she would finally realize what fun it is to play outside on one of the coldest weeks of the year.

Post:  This week my friend Cheryl wrote, “I want to go into great detail and tell you how great things are these days, but for now, I’ll be brief, because brief is better than waiting for perfection and then not posting at all, right?”  Thanks for the reminder.

Quiet time:  I need it.

Randolph College:  Many Sunday afternoons I head to the library for my very own paper grading party, and today was no exception.   While there, I noticed the birds’ nests in the huge vines climbing Main Hall, a book written in Spanish that I wish I still knew how to read, and General Jones’ interesting choice of attire.   I still love that place.

Spelling Bee:  I had two bee the judge this weak four are school be.  Talk about pressure!

Twin bed:  Bubba has suddenly graduated to the big boy bed, but we have yet to take down the crib because of its effectiveness as a threat.

Underwear:  Chica was wearing none (nor pants) when she came to the top of the steps to greet a school friend of mine that stopped by yesterday.  That kid.

Valentine’s Day:  I am so thankful for room moms who plan these things for me.  Two years ago I didn’t even know what a room mom did.  I’m very blessed.

Weight Watchers:  In preparation for her surgery, Nana jumped back on the bandwagon and lost a bunch of weight.  Between her inspiration and J above, I think I’m almost ready to jump back on too.

eXtra Money:  This week in the mail I received my award for the video contest.  I decided I wanted to actually spend it on something good instead of just rolling it into the same pot for food, gas, etc.  My best ideas so far are dinner out and a night at the Craddock Terry with Jay or treating a few friends to a “Girl Day”…maybe painting pottery and going for ice cream.  We’ll see.

Yes, it worked!:  Most ideas I find on Pinterest require way too much planning and forethought, but occasionally I find one that is simple enough for even me to carry out.  Today I gave Bubba a pile of clothespins and a big, empty apple juice container.  The biggest indication that this was a hit:  I was able to load the dishwasher without stopping while he was in the same room.  Miracle.

Zzzzz:  Is it time for bed yet?

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MAGNETIC LETTERS  
© Davosmith  | Flickr Creative Commons

Twelve in 2012

I excused myself from baby duty and shut the door behind me so I could write.  I sincerely wanted to come up with something funny but insightful to ring in the New Year in my little corner of the blog world, but it still hasn’t come to me.

So I’ll just do a little recycling.  I actually rather like reading the recaps of the previous year in the newspaper each December.  There’s something about seeing the best moments and the worst moments and all the mediocre parts in between that helps put life into perspective.

As cliché as it may be, I offer you twelve lessons learned in 2012 as well as a post or two to go with each.

  1.  I am not a Pinterest mommy.  When I started this blog, I wasn’t sure in which direction to go.  At the time, I spent long hours nursing Bubba reading blogs from both tell-it-like-it-is mommies and Pinterest-worthy mommies. I tried my hand at one how-to post, but I consider it a major flop….mainly because I never followed through with my best laid plans.  That super cool box still sits waiting under the bench in my kitchen, hoping it will get more action next summer.
  2. My two children are two very different people.  Look no further than the first two pictures in this post for a perfect illustration.  Just today I was telling MIL again that she was indeed right…I didn’t know how good I had it with the first one.  Bubba seems to get into everything these days.  Maybe I’ve erased these hard parts from my memory of Chica’s toddler stage, but I just can’t remember her being like the tornado of terror that is Bubba.
  3. I need to write.  I need to write because sometimes it’s the only thing that makes me sit and listen.  But I also need to write because otherwise I would never remember the tiny little moments like these.  I laughed out loud again just now when I remembered Chica giving me the California Salute.  That memory would surely have been gone by now if I hadn’t written it down.
  4. I can’t write anything in five minutes.  I wanted so badly to participate in Five Minute Friday with other bloggers, but I can’t follow the rules.  Oh well.  At least I’ve shortened the time it takes me to produce a post worth publishing.  What used to take me two or three hours, I now try to crank out in under one.
  5. My kids are funny.  Life is messy and complicated and painful even, but it’s also funny.  It’s worth writing down the funny stuff to reread during the not-so-good parts.
  6. Joy was my word for 2012.  I found myself writing about it over and over.  I don’t have it all figured out, but I do know that I am more joyful than I was a year ago.  I have to remind myself every day to be sure my joy is rooted in Jesus.
  7. I learned that I have some major rearranging to do in my priorities.  I heard this challenge so loud and clear one morning before school, but I still struggle each day to make this happen.  I can say honestly that I have made some concrete steps to put my family before my job in the last few months of 2012.  There’s still a lot of rearranging to do though!
  8. Five minute of fame is just that…five minutes.  I was really caught by surprise when my story about getting a D in high school was Freshly Pressed.  For my non-blogger  readers, a friend compared it to, “an athlete being featured on ESPN or something.”  While I think that is quite an exaggeration, I did feel like I was living it up for a few days.  My WordPress annual report says that 3,690 people viewed this post in one day in July!  But life went back to normal in a few days, with my most faithful readers being my family and a handful of my friends.  And that’s just fine by me.
  9. This stage will end.  I’m reminded as I’m scrolling through my posts of how big of a deal that sleep (or lack of it) has been in the last few months.  But here’s the thing….Bubba went to bed tonight around 8:00 p.m., and unless I’ve now jinxed myself because I wrote this, he won’t wake up until at least 4 or 5 a.m.  And we didn’t really do anything different to make this happen.  He just finally grew out of his need to check in with us at midnight and 2 a.m. every night.  (Thank the Lord!)  So Chica will not be 16 and have to wear pull-ups to sleepovers, and Bubba will not be 5 and still throwing food on the floor when he’s done.  We will move past these stages.   It just takes time.
  10. But with the passing of the bad stages goes plenty of good ones too.  I’ve tried to step back and observe and record as many of those moments as possible, picturing what I’ll miss when they’re not so little any more.  Tonight I watched Bubba splash the bath water then laugh his giddy, old-lady smoker’s laugh at himself over and over.  This….I know I’ll miss this.
  11. Don’t let a one year old play with a full soda can.  Lesson learned.
  12. And finally, blogging is fun!  I wrote this at the end of my first post:

“I’ve contemplated starting a blog for a long time.  Today I’m giving it a whirl.  It may turn out like the A to Z list on my refrigerator, but I’ll never know unless I try.  I hope this will be a space where I can reflect on life as a wife, mother of two, teacher, and wisher.  I plan to write about my kairos moments and my not-so-kairos moments.  Come along for the ride.”

So, thanks to YOU for sticking with me this long.  Thanks for speaking up and commenting when one of my rambling ideas connects with you.  That’s what makes this so fun!  Happy New Year!

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FIREWORKS  
© tsuacctnt  | Flickr Creative Commons