Friday, September 29, 2017

A Park Field Trip with the Best School Ever

I didn't intend for it to be this quiet around here. But I'm back for at least a couple weeks. Cross your fingers and let's hope it sticks.

The other day I was thinking about all the things going wrong in my life. Then I stopped myself and wondered 'why do we look at the negative of things?' When someone asks 'how are you?' and we automatically go to complain? We all have good things in life. Why do we let the negative drag us down? So when I recognize myself headed down the road of unending negativity, I stop and start thinking of something good. It has helped. So tonight when I could easily start beating myself up about a few things and I'm tired enough to give into it, I'm going to focus on some good.

I work at an amazing school and have the most amazing students! Today we had our school wide park field trip. And first of all, the students at my school are responsible enough that we can go on a school wide field trip. It provides a time for team work and bonding which is important for kids from so many different schools that come together for our high school. And sometimes I forget just how special that really is. Today I got a few good reminders of just how special they all are.

Discovery High School Facebook Page

Student Senate planned a few team building games, among them Tug-of-War (my team lost, but we didn't fall down) and Capture the Flag. My Capture the Flag team was awesome! I am not good at strategy or running, so I wasn't sure how this was going to go. I had a plan to defend the flag and absolutely no plan to go get others. But my team jumped right in and put everything they had into defending our flag, including sitting in a trash can. (The bag was removed, so it was clean. And we put the bag back in when we were done.) And we did it!! No one touched our flag. It was awesome.

Then after that a couple guys sought me out to chat. Mostly about their girl problems. Earlier in the week it was friend issues with a different student. They said I was the 2nd counselor in the school. It always makes me feel good that students feel comfortable enough to come to me and talk about what is bothering them. They consider what I have to say as pretty good advice.

Tonight I had a parent email me to tell me how much her daughter enjoyed my competitiveness for Capture the Flag.

Yesterday I had a student get me a coke because she found the name Ward on it and thought of me.

A couple former students visited this week, one of whom thanked me for helping to find his passion and see it through at university. I'm humbled beyond words that I could have any part of that.

We have several students with various medical issues. Sometimes these issues flare up at school or at events like today. I have never heard of a student derided in any way for any of their issues. On the contrary, the students at my school check on their friends often. They know what the triggers are. They know what the symptoms are. And they are right there every step of the way when something flares up. The other students are concerned even if it isn't their friend. I saw that today. I saw the concern and love on their faces. I saw a couple of my colleagues right there every step of the way. I saw students get creative to support us.

There have been many memorable moments in my teaching career and even a few pivotal moments. I think today was one of those moments. I will never forget today, but more importantly I will never forget these special people that I am honored to serve everyday.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

What Do I Do Now?

I don't normally talk about politics or even current events because everything in our society is so divisive. But tonight my heart is heavy I have to talk about it. The events in Charlottesville this weekend have been heartbreaking to say the least. I keep checking Twitter for the latest updates and in hopes that someone will say something that really makes a difference. I keep hoping for something more than words, some action that we can take to fix these broken hearts and misguided theologies.

But Twitter doesn't have solutions. It is ultimately 140 characters that are now known for their gentility and peacemaking.

I keep checking anyway because I don't know how to fix this. There is a law that we can pass to change people's hearts. There are certainly laws that can protect others better, but how do we get laws that are useful for our whole society passed with our current government atmosphere? And how long will those laws take to pass?

It makes me feel so helpless. I don't want to be accused of doing nothing. I don't want to be silent and assent to the extremist views.

So what do I do now?

I have a few ideas. I don't know if it is enough though. Today I wore this shirt and I mean it. I got a couple compliments.

I make sure to get my daughter books of people that don't look like her. I talk to people around me and I listen. I try to hear them and express what I understand of the other side. I talk about these issues with my students. I listen to both sides. I remember that everyone on both sides of this issue and other issues are human. I try to use my words carefully and wisely. I am trying to be open minded and caring to all.

I'm not sure that it's enough. I don't think that anything I am doing right now will make any immediate differences. And I don't know if anything I am doing will make any long term differences. I know I am a privileged middle class white woman in the United States. I know I have it easy and I know others don't. There are citizens and people here in the United States that don't feel safe and valued. But even more, there were 24 people killed in rioting in Kenya because of the election results. There are 60 dead in India because the hospitals don't have enough oxygen.

I can't fix these things, but I wish I could. I don't know what to do, but I wish I did. I'm just so sorry.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Reasons for Troll Cake

A few months ago I scoured the cabinets and bought a couple things from the grocery store. I threw it all together and was fairly happy with the outcome of my experiment and so was the rest of the family. I have been wanting to revisit that experiment, but haven't had an occasion. Today I found the occasion!

There was a program at the library with a Borzoi therapy dog. We went as a whole family,  but my son was reluctant. We have a dog and he loves our dog,  but he is not so in love with other dogs.  So he went to the program, but didn't get too close to Russ, the dog.  As we were leaving, Lily wanted to give Russ one more pet goodbye. So I bribed Ben into petting him as well.

What did I bribe Ben with? 

My kitchen experiment....... Troll Cake!

Even though it is super hard to make,  I sacrificed to reward him for working on his fears.  I thought you all might like to know how I make Troll Cake. 

1 box funfetti cake mix 
1 jar of colored icing
Colored sugar
Food coloring  (optional)

Last time it was white cake with blue icing and pink sprinkles and pink colored sugar. This time there was no blue,  but orange was on closeout. So today we had DJ Suki cake. Pink cake, orange icing, and sprinkles in the shape of headphones. 

Before baking
After icing

I normally insist on baking from scratch. (My Mamaw trained me well.) But sometimes you use box cake mix and have a party for no particular reason.  

Life is hard. Find something to celebrate!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

My House and My Heart

In my last post,  I shared how overwhelmed I felt by summer stretched out before me.  Now that the end of summer is in sight, I am pleased with what I have accomplished, but I don't want to get lazy.

I can see clearly down the road!!!

So far Lily has a good start on potty training and some great swimming practice. Ben has done lots of reading, some building, a museum visit, and had started learning ASL. He has been great at ASL! I'm super proud of him. And Lily has mostly stopped fussing about potty training. Yay!
I have managed to clean, sort, and get rid of things.  I have not pulled weeds like I need to,  but I have been stung by 3 yellow jackets, Ben has been stung by 3 wasps, and I have seen lots more scary bugs. So I am hesitant to get out there like I need to. I did get the trees trimmed because I hired a former student who did amazing work!
Things are slowly coming together.  I often feel so overwhelmed by the amount of work to do in and around my house that I don't do it. I know it won't be perfect, so I don't start.  I know I can't get it done in a day,  so I don't start. I know some things won't get fixed until much later, so I don't make small changes. This summer I have begun to overcome that. I am awaking from a paralyzing fear of not being good enough. I am slowly putting things together and I'm proud of myself. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Summer is Here...

Photo Credit: Dawn Ellner
Several people have asked me if I am glad that the school year is over. I answer yes because that is what is expected, but the answer is actually not quite that easy. I am glad that this year with my crazy schedule is over. I'm glad to wrap up some long standing things on my to do list. I'm glad to have some time off. But I'm not glad that summer is starting. I'm not glad that I am going to be home with my kids this summer. And not because of all the "funny meme" reasons you see out there. I don't feel prepared to keep them busy. I don't think I know to fill their summer days with fun and learning. I have ideas of things to practice and places to go, but will I actually do those things? When I don't have a schedule that says first period, second period, etc., can I keep a real schedule? Basically I'm asking, can I be a good mother this summer?

I don't think I can. I don't think I can keep up fun and learning. I'm feeling overwhelmed with an entire summer in front of me. I know how to teach Spanish to high school kids in chunks of 45 minute time or 90 minute time. An entire day with an 8 year old and a 3 year old? I don't know what I'm doing!

Summer is supposed to be this euphoric ideal full of fantastic adventures. That's a lot to live up to. Again, I guess we'll just do today.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Just Do Today

My father in law passed away the day of my previous post. It has been an unusual few weeks of trying to find a new normal. And in some ways it felt like our world is falling apart. Not because of grief, but because so many things are changing. Things that are completely unrelated to my father in law are changing and I don't know what to think about it all. I don't know what direction God wants us to go. I don't see what the future will hold. Drew and I keep telling each other, "Just do today."

The books I was reading have gone to side. I'm playing the time wasting game on my phone and binge listening to 3 podcasts. I'm having trouble focusing on my books or writing long enough to get anything accomplished. So I haven't posted in a while. I will get back to a routine sometime. Maybe after the school year is over, I can get back to this.

One quick thought to leave you with ... you never know when it will be the last one. I have heard this idea more than once, but it didn't really hit home until recently. We often celebrate the first of something, first steps, first kiss, first day of school, etc. However it is the last of something that goes unnoticed, but probably means more. I was rocking Lily to sleep and thought I probably won't realize when it is the last time I do this. I certainly didn't realize Easter dinner would be the last one with Eddie. So take one day at a time. Stop and enjoy the day. I know it sounds cliché, but actually living this out every day is not easy. It is a challenge to not get caught up in the stresses of the day or the stresses of tomorrow that creep in. It is a challenge to not focus on the future and the problems that might be there.

So I challenge you to focus on today. Just do today. See if it makes things better.

Image result for matthew 6:34
Photo Credit: Decals for the Wall

Monday, May 8, 2017

Something to Make the Hard Times Better

Three weeks and I haven't posted anything. Life has been busy. I have started this post multiple times and then something comes up and I can't finish it.

These past few weeks have been hard. I want to tell you all the ways it has been hard. I want to tell you all the people who have helped or offered to help. I want to tell you the conversations that I have had. The life changing conversations that I didn't expect to have this early in life. The small comments made that have been so encouraging. The small comments made that got under my skin. I want to tell you about the small quiet moments that have spoken peace into my soul. I want to tell you all the ways I have grown so far. But I'm afraid they are too raw and will be hurtful.

So I will tell you two small stories about my kids and this time. A couple weeks ago when we found out that this was really the end my husband was at the hospital with my father in law. We decided to take the kids to see him one more time. I had to prepare my kids for what was going on, so I started talking. I think God gave me the right words. We got to the parking lot and my son jumped out because he thought he was going to get sick. He didn't, but this proved he is an anxious kid and sometimes that anxiety is manifested physically. He wore his sadness on his face as we walked in to the oncology department. A nurse saw him and asked him why he was sad. His answer was heartbreaking. "My pawpaw's gonna die." Then he started crying again. I hugged him and teared up myself. The nurse was obviously sorry she asked the question and I felt sorry for her too. Daddy came out of PawPaw's room and gave hugs. He gathered up his courage and went in to the room. He chatted with PawPaw and said goodbye.

Lily, being only 3, doesn't really understand this. She just catches on to a few phrases and then repeats those. With luck, she adds her thoughts to the end. One of the things I said in my explanation was to ask if my son remembered how PawPaw lost his hair. That phrase she latched on to. So as we were walking out of the hospital and back to the car, she said, "PawPaw lost his hair and we are going to go find it for him." Both my son and I laughed.

Her laughter and joy and simplicity has made this trying time much better.

If you feel so inclined, we have set up a GoFundMe to help pay medical expenses as well as the final expenses we will be facing. Thank you.