Sunday, August 29, 2010

Our week in pictures

Looks to me like this was taken with night vision goggles...  I think it's funny.  And an entirely accurate picture of nearly every day of my life somewhere between 3am and 7am.  Luke shows up and eventually gets himself situated across our bed.  And my neck!

This is what it looked like as I settled into my studies yesterday afternoon.  Wishing that was a huge bowl of almonds instead of animal crackers, but I had to settle for what was available.

Luke started preschool on Tuesday.  Normally the life of every party, this was his day to quietly take everything in.  Some kids join in the singing and dancing upon arrival - mine don't.

And fall soccer started yesterday.  What we lack in years of experience, we make up for in enthusiasm and fabulous uniforms.  I heard someone say they saw us as they flew over in their jumbo jet.

Friday, August 27, 2010


I'm finishing my Gen Ed requirements at a local urban community college.  Initially I'd planned to go to the community college in the county in which I live, but ... since I will be doing my student teaching in the urban district, and I would like to volunteer with youth (outside of teaching) in that same urban district and possibly even teach elementary school there, I felt that the urban school was the perfect place to dive in sooner rather than later.  And, honestly, I couldn't be happier.  I feel older (not old, but certainly older!), but I feel entirely at home.

I have one class on campus and three online.  My class on campus is Public Speaking, and Tuesday and Thursday of this week were spent listening to each student give a short speech introducing themselves.  I'd expected the speeches would cover name, age, high school, hobbies, interests, career aspirations, jobs, that sort of thing.  I was shocked to hear these kids sharing so openly about growing up in extreme poverty, childhood abuse, severely fractured families, violence in their neighborhoods, teenage pregnancies, abandonment, the difficulties and joys of single parenting, etc.  Their honesty and vulnerability shocked me.

I lived a youth similar to many of theirs, but I would never have talked so openly about it at their age.  Perhaps one difference is that my high school drew kids from all over the district - some living in extreme poverty and utter brokenness, others fairly wealthy and well put together - so we kept our private lives private out of insecurity and fear of others reactions.  You could could it discretion - and discretion is a good thing - but I couldn't help admire how these kids were able to be real about who they are and where they've been.

Most of these kids graduated from the same school; growing up in the same neighborhoods, knowing the exact same brokenness of home and community...  Perhaps that fosters an environment where one can openly talk about what they're living.  Sort of  a live-in support group.  It is very interesting.

I am so glad I decided to dive in to an urban school now.  I love it there.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Baseball and sneezes

As I studied in the corner of the living room yesterday, I had the pleasure of watching Zach watch baseball on TV with his dad.  This is a first; or maybe a second.  Zach's not really into watching sports on TV, and his dad loves sports.  All sports.  But especially baseball.  Bryan played college baseball and had dreams of coaching little league as each of our sonograms indicated a baby boy.

Then came the boys, each with their unique personalities, interests and abilities.  Zachary tried t-ball and a few basketball clinics as a preschooler, before we threw in the towel and decided to wait entirely for his prompting.  He really wasn't into team sports...  Then came soccer and the discovery of Zach's confidence, and love of physical activity, game rules, strategy, and camaraderie of the team. 

And yesterday a baseball game on TV piqued his interest.  I listened as Zach was wowed by the pitcher, noting aloud the 89 mph speed he saw flashed on the screen.  Father and son chatted about Daddy's days as a pitcher, some of his glorious plays, pitching style and Major League speed.  Zach was impressed.  Until he remembered that a person sneezes at 100 mph, so a ball thrown at 89 mph was really not all that impressive.

Zachary warms my heart.  His mind is so simple and vastly complex at the same time. 

I am so happy for Bryan to have had that lovely father son moment of watching a ballgame together.  And I wonder...  Will this child of ours play baseball?  Will he be more interested in analyzing sneezes and other scientific matters?  Will he do a combination of both or neither? 

Raising this child is entirely my honor and privilege...and my entertainment.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Busy mornings

I'm already overwhelmed by our morning schedule.  It's only been three days of having to be at school by 8:50am (can drop off as early as 8:35) and I'm already not loving the early'ness.  I had to wake Zach up yesterday - that is not normal.  When I went to get him at 7:55am, he said "But I'm so tired."  When I said, "But, Honey, it's almost at 8 o'clock." he shot out of bed.  Thankfully.  He showered, dressed and ate in record time, but I had to stay on him to keep him focused.  I never enjoy that - feels like nagging.  Can we go back to starting school at 12:50?  Or even 10am?

And starting will no longer be just Zachary that needs to be out the door.  I start school on Thursday morning.  And Luke next Tuesday.  Plus I've got three other online classes that I need to be disciplined enough for on my off-campus days.

I just remembered...we have the dog.  Gotta make sure he gets out, fed and watered, loved on a little and back into his kennel before we leave.

This is going to be a crazy ride.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My prayer for teachers

Every summer I pray a lot for the teachers at my boys' schools.  Having grown up in a {secretly} abusive home, I personally know the value of a loving teacher who provides a safe and encouraging place for kids.  My teachers {at school and church...and my amazing Girl Scout leaders} were my lifeline as a young girl...and most of them had no idea.  

I pray that our teachers will have the wisdom and equipping to reach every single child where they are at.  That they will be that perfect mixture of loving, flexible and firm.  That they will go the extra mile to teach the kids what is needed beyond academics.  That they will have eyes to see beyond the challenging behavior and instead see the heart and potential of these little people.  And, of course, that at every {difficult} turn they will advocate for the needs of those who don't have a voice.  Sadly, we are in every school worldwide.

When I was a student, I was a girl without a voice.  I didn't know how to say thank you or even acknowledge their kindness...but I vividly remember many specific moments that changed my life.  The first male teacher who didn't lay a hand on me and instead laid the foundation of my restored view of men.  The first woman who told me that I could do anything and actually believed it for me.  The school counselor who told me that I was "responsible for my day"...that an abusive childhood did not have to define me.  The man who said he loved how I "lit up like a Christmas tree" when I figured something out.  The man who occasionally "loaned" me lunch money; however, never asked for my repayment.  As a woman, it is their encouragement and kindness that rings louder than all of the discouragement combined.

God bless our teachers.  Theirs is a tall order...and a vital part of most American lives.  Continued prayers for our teachers worldwide throughout the 2010-2011 school year.  May you have an impact beyond anything you could imagine.  You have blessed my life so richly.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


The first of our August 2010 milestones passed yesterday.  Zach is officially a first grader.  The kids started school on a Friday.  Some were perplexed by this, but these first time all-day-school parents are relieved to have the weekend to recoup.  The day - and days leading up to it - were emotion-filled, to say the least.

Every day this week, Zach would get up and look at the calendar and announce how many days were left before the big day.  There was much excitement over Back to School Night on Wednesday - meeting his new teacher, discovering whose class all his friends were in, locating his first-ever locker, sitting in his desk and finding out that he will start this new year off sitting right beside the little girl who lived next door to us for so many years.

Thursday night he declared that he "was so excited that he couldn't stop moving!"  This was at 6:30pm.  At 8:30pm we were settling into pj's and prayer, when Zach asked me to pray about a lot of things having to do with school.  As I was wrapping up, he added "and pray that I won't cry all the way home because I missed you guys so much."  His sweet eyes turned red and welled up with tears...and he asked if we could all sleep together.  We prayed some more and I reassured him that we would all be great and that school was going to be an absolute blast that he should enjoy, knowing that we are eagerly waiting for him at home.

He practically skipped into school and had a wonderful day.

That is, till he recounted indoor recess (due to excessive heat) and realized that he had not been picked during a game of Heads Up 7-Up.  He bowed his head, started to cry, and declared that "the first day of every grade sucks!"  It was so sad, I thought Bryan was going to cry.  Bryan had missed Zach all day and to see his boy crying over a recess game (and knowing that he sat in a classroom for seven hours with only one other boy from last year's kindergarten class...missing his buddies that he'd hoped to be in class with again this year) just broke his (our) heart.  Thankfully this outburst was over almost as quickly as it came on.  A little while later, he was replaying his entire day with sincere happiness and excitement.  He is going to love 1st grade.

Next week, Mom's up.  Returning to college at a minivan.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


At 8:25 last night, I gave the kids two options...  Clean the basement or head up to bed.  They opted to clean the basement.  After cleaning the basement, everyone was still in such great moods that Bryan and I weren't in any hurry to get the kids to bed.  Ultimately...  Here's what we were doing at 10:30pm.

I hope the kids will remember their childhoods fondly.  I know I will.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Diving board

Call me crazy, but I don't take my camera to the public pool...where I would leave it unattended for hours, in a pool bag, with soaking wet, splashing kids everywhere, not to mention hundreds of strangers who might like to have my camera.  But Bryan did take his phone, allowing me to take this picture.

So fun.  He loves the diving board!

Summer Fun...

...According to my cell phone photo album.

Luke's favorite fashion statement.

Goofy faces.

Good friends after dinner (and soccer practice).

Pool wresting.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My school supplies

And my Public Speaking class doesn't even have a textbook.

Swim. Dive. Play.

Bryan has been a member of our local IBEW for 14 years.  I think we've attended one Christmas party and one other celebration in the 8 1/2 years that we've been married.  Neither were on IBEW property.  The have annual celebrations for Independence Day and Labor Day, including parades, picnics, swim parties, etc...  The grounds are actually quite nice!  Bryan's a union guy no doubt, he's just not the kind of guy who desires to hang out around work outside of work.

Then one day he took the kids with him to run something out to the hall.  The boys spotted the swimming pool.  The swimming pool with a diving board!

So...  On July 9th we headed out to the hall to swim.  And jump off the diving board.  And play at the playground after.

This is the diving board; however, this picture is taken from the playground.  I was too busy swimming and playing to take pictures while we were at the pool.  Duh.  So, this marked the day that each of the boys went off the diving board for the first time.  They were fearless.  They had a blast. 

The kids loved the playground too.  I'm pretty sure that this jungle gym is homemade.  I can just imagine a couple of electricians building this with their own hands, for their children's enjoyment.  I love that image.

And I love this pump.  It was perfect for rinsing mulchy feet.

I suspect we might actually venture out for future work parties and parades after that great day.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Guard your heart

As I came across this in my Bible study this morning, it caused me to think about my boys.  I immediately went to get a sheet of paper to write on and post on the fridge for their reading pleasure.

"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."  Proverbs 4:23

The footnotes in my Bible expand with beautiful eloquence, so I will let them do the talking...  "Our heart - our feelings of love and desire - dictates to a great extent how we live our lives because we always find time to do the things we enjoy.  Make sure your affections lead you in the right direction.  Put boundaries on your desires:  Don't go after everything you see.  Look straight ahead, keep your eyes fixed on your goal, and don't get sidetracked on detours that lead to sin."

Boys, from the moment you threw your first temper tantrum, you've heard us explain that our "rules" are to keep you safe and to mold you into the men God wants you to be.  We are not out to torture you or make life miserable.  Our insistence on honesty, integrity and good manners is not meant to impress people, but to genuinely form your heart so that your love and respect for friends and neighbors shines through.  I love how the Bible footnotes use the word "boundaries".  The Wii is good fun, but if you play it too much...we find that that is where your heart is.  As you get older, the same might be said for friends, sports, popularity, girls, a job, and wealth.  Mom and Dad's teachings, boundaries, and rules are all about guiding you toward godliness.  Guard your hearts, boys.  Place God above all else and chase Him - He is the one truly great and worthwhile thing to chase!  He will provide you with every thing else you could possibly need...and more!

"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."  Proverbs 4:23

"Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.  For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. " 
1 John 2:15-17

Daddy and I are crazy in love with you boys and, remarkably, God loves you even more than we do.  (That is hard for this mother to comprehend, but I know it's true!)  The boundaries...limits...rules...whatever you want to call them are not rigid restrictions, but merely God's asking on your life.  He is a mighty God and He has chosen you as his child.  Guard your hearts.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

{Clifford the Big Red} Dog days of summer

With back-to-school open houses in a week and three first days of school within a week of that, I am feeling that chest-tightening pain of summer winding down.  It will be nice to get back into a routine.  It will be excellent to feed our brains with new information.  It will be wonderful to return to classrooms with old friends and make new ones.  New school supplies and fall wardrobes are things to get excited about it (as are cooler temps, and eventually snow).

But I will miss the lazy days of summer.

Days like this.