Tuesday, October 28, 2014

When Being an Adult Bites!

I remember when I lived in Shreveport, La. It was when my husband was in medical school. There were so many wonderful things about starting our married life there. The people, the people, and the people!

My aunt and Uncle were less that 30 minutes away. My grandmother even less. My cousin lived there. It was easy. When I had my daughter everyone was there. No problem. When I had a terrible stomach virus and had to go to the doctor and was so sick he wouldn't let me drive home, my aunt showed up to get me and drive me home. No problem! She tucked me into bed and then proceeded to do all my laundry and clean my house. She isn't the judging type either that my house was messy. She's the loving serving type. I'm happy to be named after her.

When I had a PTO meeting and had a baby at home my uncle came over to babysit. He missed seeing the Olympics that night because the electricity went off and he was stuck with my 9 month old in the dark the whole time just the two of them. When I got home they were two happy campers and her diaper was on backwards because he changed her in the pitch black house! Haha.

But as we moved away from family I became more and more on my own. When I got the flu while living in Chattanooga I had the blessing of friends. One who brought me chicken noodle soup and food from Panera for me and the kids, another who came and took my children to the zoo and cared for them 2 days straight until I was upright again.

What brings all this to mind? This-

My breakfast, lunch, and dinner for today and my breakfast and lunch for tomorrow. The colonoscopy that was brought to my attention that I needed the day of my bad cut and color a couple of months ago. Well, it's that time.

I know many people my age haven't had even one but this will be my third. The first I was only about 5. The second I was in my early 20s after I had M and now my third. Better safe than sorry right?

Anyway, it's times like these when I wish for my "people". Life was so easy when I could call home sick and my mom always dropped everything, checked me out of school and took me home to care for me. Even in college when I had a sore throat my parents drove 45 minutes to bring me homemade freshly baked bread, chicken soup, and some other goodies.

I miss that. I miss having my mom to take care of me instead of always being the mom to take care of everyone. I miss having that person who would drop it all to take care of me when I needed it. It was nice. People who don't expect anything in return. All I have to be is their daughter or their sister or their niece. That's the only requirement!

This morning I just pretty much gave up on this day knowing how shitty it would be (sorry for the pun). I left home to take the kids to school in my Wonder Woman pants. Mary pointed to them as we pulled up to her school and said if you look this way they stand for Wonder Woman. If you turn them upside down it stands for Miraculous Mom!

As I pulled away I thought, "what the heck!" And went straight to get the breaks checked. And as my friend said that I was on the phone with at the time, "and you got out of the car?!?" LOL

I went in and true to adult nature I had to pay $30 so they could tell me, there's nothing wrong with your breaks. Less than an hour. I'm obviously in the wrong business.

Then proceeded to the grocery store in my pants because by now I'm too far gone and got what I needed for today's "prep". Yes it's all over the counter products now!

A nice man walked up to me in my pajama top, wonder woman pants, and my tennis shoes. I have a fleeting thought he may have thought I escaped from the looney bin but instead he was nicely directing me to the Gatorades that just went on sale rather than the ones I was putting in my buggy. And since I just paid $30 for absolutely nothing at the mechanics I have to say I was appreciative!

But all in all I don't feel like being Wonder Woman today or Miraculous Mom. I would love to be just a kid again until after tomorrow and not worry about how to get to the hospital or home or how the kids will get home from school. If I were a kid again all that would be taken care of!

Not to mention the insurance company just called to inform me I have a $5000 deductible and that only $115 has been met on it so far.

So here's to when being an adult includes brake checks, colonoscopies, outrageous deductibles, child care, and sheer exhaustion from just being! But somehow we manage it anyway!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dear Lord...Am I being Punked?

I was looking back in my journal and seeing the excitement I could hardly contain about being a stay at home mom last year. When I'm not blogging, I'm writing in my journal, sketching pictures in my sketchbook, reading, or cooking. I am mothering all the time multitasking.

I have to be honest I thought this year of "staying at home mom hood" would be "easy"- all about the comfort of my own home and my own kids and I could focus on my own family. Happily ever after right?

Haha does that sound like life? No. Life is unexpected, it's messy, it's complicated, it's hard decisions, it's thinking from time to time-"I don't want to be a grown up anymore!"

This morning I dropped the kids off at their schools and was on my way home. Most mornings I leave my phone at home so I won't even be tempted to be distracted by looking at it. Well on my way home in my VS green and white striped sleep shirt and my sky blue soft pajama pants with white clouds and my slip on brown animal print Sperrys I glanced over and noticed my phone was indeed in my purse. At a stop light close to my house I pressed the round button and noticed there was a text from W's principal.

It read. We had a sub call in and cancel can you sub for PE today?

Me in my head-"PE????"

I thought this with a bit of a smile not knowing whether that would be easier or harder than a regular classroom. I have taught reading, writing, math, social studies, science but never PE.

What do I wear?

Anyway, I texted back that I had tutoring at the middle school from 9-9:45 but was free after.

I got a text back-Great! Your fist PE class is 10:40.

What. Have. I . Gotten. Myself. Into???

The part about this stay at home mom hood I don't understand is that in 3 full months I have been home the whole day maybe enough times to count on one hand.

So I go and tutor. Then go to teach PE.

First my son's class. Then 3 Pre-K classes. Then a Pre first.

Needless to say this was way out of my comfort zone. It was fun and new and well....different!

So much has progressed this year, and it feels like I am going through life completely blind and God has these crazy plans for me that I am supposed to willing accept and be grateful for.

It is NOT the comfy easy life I expected. It is real life however.

The other day my husband took me on a date. He has been mucho busy starting to practice and getting his work off the ground as a new up and coming plastic surgeon here. So I was very excited to finally go on a much needed date night just the two of us. When he pulled up to the Armory shooting range it is NOT what I was expecting. I lost it. I was like NO I am NOT doing this. He even called one of my best friends to get her to talk some sense into me because she is like Annie Oakley with guns.

Comfort Zone-Where are you???

But I did eventually go in. I saw my husband in a new light. He has been around guns much more than I. He was way more knowledgable and comfortable in showing me how to load, how to hold a 9MM, how to shoot. I kept trying to just let him do it so I could watch, and he kept putting it back in my terrified hands making me load, take it off safety, and shoot.

I swear I was afraid for my life. The first shot I thought I surely must have missed the whole target. I couldn't see my mark because the bullet hole was directly through the x on the center of the target. That is a strange and exciting feeling.

My husband and I have dated for 19 years-6 before Marriage and 13 after marriage. This is something we had never experienced together. It brought us closer. It gave me the chance to trust his judgement and let him teach me how to do something. It was a very sexy date. Especially when he shot at the target and his button up shirt pulled tight over his shoulders as I watched from behind him. Ok enough about that! I am getting sidetracked!

This thing of being outside our comfort zone. It is what is good for our person, our soul. It's not healthy to not grow, not to change, not to learn.

Me teaching PE today. I feel different now like I did that?!

When I left the shooting range I joked to Paul, "I may join the police force now!" He knew that would never happen but for a moment I thought- People can do whatever they want to do! At any age?! People can change when and what they want to. It simply amazes me.

I don't know if this is amusing to God all these little things I am getting into this year-going into strangers' houses to just be a friend, taking an unplanned job, learning new and terrifying things, or if there is a greater plan, or if He is just showing me slowly and surely that I'm not done yet! However, I am enjoying the ride. This roller coaster that is making me want to close my eyes on some twists and turns but I still want to stay on for the ride.

Meanwhile occasionally I get to be home and cook:

I even did this one day when I was actually home-

My hair was even soaked in a conditioning mask! Haha But mostly I am on a strange new adventure each day and trying to process who I am becoming and what I want to be each day! And hoping God is not just punking me!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cheering T on

Last year I had a child in my class. Like many children I have requested to be in my room this one had needs. Well, all kids have needs, but this one had certain needs. This student had been known for fighting, for being extremely behind in all subjects, fleeing the room, and even flipping a chair every now and then. Knowing me, I was like, "I'll take them!"

I got to know this student when he was in 2nd grade. I did after school tutoring and he was in my tutoring group from 3:00-5:30pm 3 days a week. Whew, that was a long year! Then this student was in my daughter's class in 3rd grade. I begged for this child to be in my class. My best friend had his sibling the year before so she did too. We both couldn't wait to make a difference, or at least try, in this child's life for one school year.

Well, I won! I got the student :) For me it was that moment like, "We got Annie!" We had a great year. Of course I'm not magic so there were some bumps. We will call this student T. T and I formed a bond immediately because we had already been working on it since 2nd grade. Not far into the year T asked to move his desk next to mine. I said of course. He did great in that seat and stayed there all year long. We had our moments. He would say, "I hate this class! Or I hate you!" I didn't get angry one bit. My own child told me once, "I can take out my anger on you because you are my favorite, and I know you will love me anyway." I knew to T I was that safe place. The kind where you know you will receive mercy and grace. I even told him one day, "I used to say that to my mom. I said it because I knew of all the people in the world she would forgive me and love me anyway. She was my safe place to be angry." He agreed with me. When he had temper outbursts, I told him of the horrible temper tantrums I had as a child and told him, "And look how patient I am now??" He looked up at me and nodded in agreement as if to think, "You are pretty patient."

Toward the end of the year my students were asking if I'd be back the next year. It was time I told them I wasn't. I just said to them, "I decided to take time off so I could follow T and some of you around middle school next year!"

They laughed, but I meant it. I have spent thousands of hours with kids only to send them off and never see them again. I parented them and taught about kindness, character, reading, math, life, and forgiveness then sent them away. It is a painful thing for me because I love them. I truly do like my own kids.

Many students contact me, meet me each summer, email me, write letters, Facebook me, find me on instagram, and some just fade away into adulthood. My first class of students are in the age of marriage and children now.

I didn't just say that though, I meant it. Part of the reason I wanted to take time off this year was because I was tired of pouring my heart and soul into certain kids and then sending them off into the oblivion.

At the beginning of school T asked a friend of mine who works in the school system and went with another child to middle school, "When is Mrs. P coming to see me?" This was in August. The very next day I was there! That was all it took for us to pick back up as teacher and student. I spoke to the principal that day and we made a plan for me to come every Monday and Wednesday and pull T to work on reading and Math and what ever else he needed. I would come early in the week so he could get a good start to his week and in the middle to maintain the momentum. I come as soon as school starts to try to help him get a good start to his day. I have so enjoyed tutoring this child this year!

Have you ever been watching a football game and the underdog team is coming up closing in the gap in the score and there is this excitement and anticipation-rooting for the team to win? That's what I feel every Monday and Wednesday when I leave the middle school. I pray for this child. I am invested in this child. I wish I had more to give. It comes with great intrinsic reward but also such responsibility on my part. Once you have earned the trust of a child especially one that just does not give their trust sparingly, I feel so compelled to not fail T.

Last year we read one on one at the start of every day and in spurts throughout the day. We read books he wouldn't have dreamed of reading on his own. We always followed the same format He read a whole page-I read a whole page and did so for hundreds of pages. We have been working on a chapter book this year but there is one we never finished from the end of last year called Hugo Cabret. It was the second book we had read by this same author. Today he checked it out so we could finish it.

When I spoke to his teacher after we read and worked today she mentioned that last week when my kids were on fall break and I couldn't come T was very down and grumpy. She asked him if he was upset because I had sent the message I couldn't come that week. He didn't say much but she said that she thought that was probably it.

I left the school today after her telling me that thinking, "I matter. I matter to someone greatly." What a feeling for someone to make you feel. Of course then the next thought was of the great responsibility I feel to someone when I know I matter to them.

When I start back to work I will get out an hour before the middle school and will be able to tutor at the end of the day the last half of the year. I thought today, "I wonder when he will outgrow his 4th grade teacher?"

I have dreams for him. I pray I attend his high school graduation. I went in search today after tutoring for the book Gifted Hands, by and about the life of Ben Carson. That will be the next book we read. I want him to understand he is not defined by what he can't do but what he can!

It's good to have fans in the world. It feels even better to be a fan- getting to cheer T on!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Morning After...

How many times have you gone to bed in disarray? Only to wake to the sunshine in the morning? There is something about going to bed in the dark and waking to the light. Literally and metaphorically. This morning was our first day of Fall Break! This meant I got to wake up to silence-no alarm. I got to be woken by the extremely bright sun shining through the bay windows and my wooden blinds. I woke up this morning wanted to post "Sleeping in is the best thing EVER!" Funny how our brain adapts to a life of social media!

I haven't been blogging as much because I have been battling turbulence in my brain! The decision to go back to work when I was so uncertain. The emotions that I really needed to go back to work due to our finances. The battle of seeing my baby girl struggle to find her place in a new school with new friends and basically a whole new life for her outside of home.

That's the hardest part. I know how to go to work. I know it will help contribute financially. Those decisions don't really "hurt". But hearing my tween have moments of tears, moments of discomfort, moments of pain because she is finding her way-that hurts.

Last night she tried out a basketball practice. I sat on the sidelines and watched. To me it looked like a practice for girls that played college ball. To me she was brave. She was doing amazing. To her she was struggling to do something awkward that she has never done and in front of her peers. I so vividly remember being her age 10 and in 5th grade. I was a bit awkward and not like everyone else. I had a wild flare of a fashion sense. Picture me in dark blue/turquoise and black leopard print leggings (hand me downs from someone) before leggings were cool, paired with a hot pink sweater that had a colorful bowl of ice cream knitted on it with a 3-d cherry on top.... it was my favorite sweater!

I can't say I regret wearing that. That's who I was. Braiding my hair in a thousand tiny braids so I could wake up and take them out all wavy and kinky but then liking them so much I just wore the braids the next day. I suppose I was bold too.

After basketball practice was over I knew the verdict. I could see it on her pale face. In the car on the way home M cried. She said she didn't want to play. I told her she did great but through tears she said, "But they all know what to do. They've all played before." Honestly I couldn't tell much of a difference at all watching the practice, but to her it was glaring. I explained you have to start somewhere. I told her about how I started dance class in 7th grade and everyone was way ahead of me having done it their whole lives. I felt "behind" "embarrassed" too. But if you want to do something you have to start somewhere. Looking back it was worth it for to me. Not everyone gets paid to dance in college on a college football field. For me it was worth it.

She said, "I think I'll stick to softball and running cross country." I laughed and said, "Well you are brave because you couldn't have paid me a million dollars to do what you did today!" But her pain is mine times a thousand because I carried her in my body. Because I held her when nothing else mattered in the world when she was a baby. I explained to her she doesn't have to be good at everything. Just because her peers are playing a sport doesn't mean she has to. Because that is what this was about. She never wanted to play basketball and went into it reluctantly because she wanted to feel part of the group.

What really hurts is this child just made straight A's. The mom next to me was complaining about her child needing tutoring and had a C in math. I remained quiet but thoughtful. M just had a beautiful original photograph make it to the finals in the school wide photography contest. She won an award for the school wide AR contest and had lunch with a famous author. She doesn't even consider her talent. Right now in 5th grade all that matters is that her friends play a sport that she doesn't. Isn't middle school such a crazy time where girls tend to see what they are not and not what they ARE!

I remember how that felt like it was yesterday. Always feeling like I stuck out like a sore thumb. So I went to bed last night in a quandary. Perplexed as to how I can parent her to be a strong, independent young woman, forgiving of her flaws and appreciative of her strengths.

Then woke up to the sun.

I have to say for a while now maybe since I read this last year at this time:

When I wake up I repeat this mantra as my two feet swing around and hit the ground: His Grace is new every morning. Every morning. It's a habit now.

It's a reminder as I wake:

This morning I felt better. I got to sleep in. It is fall break. I still have butterflies about going back to work. But M is seemingly happy and joyful. A new day. So we did something that we started last November that was spontaneous on my part but left a very lasting impression on my children. We drove to Krispy Kreme in our pajamas for the fall specialty doughnuts. LOL something so simple.

This was last year:

We lived in a 1500 sq ft 100 hundred year old cabin.

We were closer than ever-physically and as a family. If it had not been for the mold and the flooding we would still live there today probably.

But here we are this morning a year later. Brushing off the worries and dust of yesterday heading for doughnuts in our pjs.

Something so little that brings my kids so much joy....

An $11 box of doughnuts that we get probably once or twice a year! When things seem so complicated one day the next day they are so simple...

So we came home and Warner and I made some cheesy scrambled eggs (to hopefully absorb some of the sugar) and had a simple yet memorable fall breakfast.

When I was thinking about what I wanted to blog today I thought of those pics from last year's KK pj trip. I pulled them up and couldn't help but notice how much has changed in a single year. M has gone from a backseat rider to a front seat passenger. W has changed tremendously. I mean he went from a dangly front baby tooth to two big adult front teeth! Mary has braces! (Funny how you can measure time with teeth like we are horses!) We don't even have the old explorer that I got upon graduating from college with my fiancé's help in purchasing it anymore. We live in a different house. And I mean now there is even a new doughnut in the Halloween mix:

Next year will also be completely different and I have a strong feeling we will live in yet another house-4 in 4 years makes sense right?? But as M said on the way home from the Krispy Kreme. I guess that's good. Change is good right?

So painful or playful, however it is, I am continuing to embrace what comes. I am so so very grateful for each NEW morning filled with NEW grace, NEW mercy, and NEW possibilities.

I have to be very honest. I don't blog to be famous. I don't blog thinking that anyone will read it! As a matter of fact upon checking the stats I'm always amazed and humbled that people from all over the world are reading. I really don't blog to give advice. I want to blog to look back and read it and reflect on where I've been. I enjoy sharing it with others in the event that they too connect to what I go through as a woman, a wife, a mom day to day. But this time I do have the most poignant advice-Give yourself the next morning. As wives we fail. As moms we struggle. As women we feel misunderstood but give yourself the morning after to receive new grace, new mercy, and a new day!