Friday, August 27, 2010

This Old Hair of Mine...

I started this post last night. I got the title down. I had a lot written in my head, but nothing actually typed on here. The next thing I know, I am waking up an hour later with the computer still sitting on my lap. I am just thankful I didn't post anything embarrassing. This time. :)

So my hair. I have had a love/hate relationship with my hair most of my life. Pretty much all of it. And mostly on the hate part. We don't get along. I have very fine hair. Ponytails are out...the hair scrunchy slides right out. Forget barrettes or any cute accessory. And curls? Not a chance. My hair is straight (but not that pretty movie star kind of straight where it is perfectly brushed and stays that way). I used to torture myself with perms trying to get even a wave. I gave up. Even now, I will occasionally curl my hair in hopes that it looks somewhat decent for the day but usually by the time my toes step out my door, it is back to its scraggly straight self. Sigh. (And double sigh for my dear daughter who inherited my hair!) Even the color is just "blah". When I was younger, it was a blonde, blonde, almost white blonde. As I have gotten older, it has turned to a "dirty blonde". Really, how can you take much pride in a color that contains the word "dirty"? Exactly my point. The one thing I do have on my side is that if I am graying at all, I cannot tell. I have found one gray hair in my lifetime. I joke that my kids are turning me gray but so far, they haven't done much damage.

So...and this post really has a point to it...

In the spring I noticed my hair was getting fairly long (for me). I have never had my hair short short but I usually don't let it get too long because it is so fine (not fine as in "oooh, she is fine" but fine as in not holding a thing in it fine), it just hangs there. I heard about a professor who was growing his hair out for Locks of Love. A male professor. His words when asked about it were (I am totally condensing because I don't remember the exact words) "I thought I should walk the walk." It made me stop and think.

I have been suggesting to my girls for some time that they donate their hair to something like Locks of Love for children with cancer. The hair is used to make wigs. One of my students did something similar a couple years ago; I was so impressed with her giving spirit. The problem is that one still doesn't fully understand what that means, and the other isn't about to cut her hair. She loves ponytails. That is when I thought, "Why do you tell your girls to do it when you haven't done it yourself?" So I made the decision to not cut my hair. After much research, I decided to donate to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program because only 8 inches are required rather than 10 that Locks of Love requires. (This program actually makes/donates hair to ADULT cancer fighters) The main stipulations are that the hair cannot be chemically treated and cannot be gray. I knew this was the time since who knows when I will suddenly be gray. Especially with this crazy life. :)

I will admit, this summer, I questioned several times why on earth I was doing it. I cannot stand the weight of the hair on my neck. It drives me crazy. I have been throwing it up in a clip every chance I get even though it doesn't look nearly as chic on me as most women. (Chic is not a word associated with me anyway :)

Yet when I was tempted to cut it, I had someone in the back of my mind. A teacher from my school found out this past spring that she had pancreatic cancer. Mrs. P is an amazing woman with more strength and humor than I ever dream of having. She is fighting the cancer with everything she has. If you see me and see a pink band on my arm, it is my reminder to pray for her. I have not taken it off since I got it. After all, she can't take off the cancer, why should I take off a rubber bracelet that reminds me of her? (I do wash it on my arm in the shower :) Surely for women like Mrs. P, I could overlook a little annoyance of hair hanging on my back. Then as the summer came to an end, our faculty suffered a second blow when another teacher found out she has breast cancer. Mrs. B is another amazing woman with a fun sense of humor and a fighting spirit. She began her treatments last week.

It was never my intent to really share any of this (about my hair growth) because I don't want to showcase what I am doing. I really planned on going to my hair dresser when my hair was a little longer and having her cut the ponytail, then I would send it in to Pantene. However, an upcoming event has detoured my plans.

Pantene/Beautiful Lengths has partnered with the LPGA tour (as in lady golfers) to hold a Beautiful Length event in our area. They have also partnered with our school to raise awareness of cancer and to support our teachers, Mrs. P and Mrs. B. On September 8 at a local convention center, there will be a hair cutting event for those donating hair. Our school hopes to have our own little section. I think my hair is there. I think I am right at the required length, though it is going to be shorter than I usually cut it. But it will grow. (Hubby may miss it though :)

If you are in our area and have untreated long hair and would like to donate it to a good cause, you can come join our group! You can send an e-mail to for more information. You can also visit the website at for more information.

Quick bit of takes 6 ponytails to make one wig!

I wish now we had waited to cut our daughter's hair; she probably was close on length. Her long hair was driving me crazy too (even though hers is everything but fine!).

I can only hope that one day my own kids will want to give from the heart. I hope that is the legacy I leave with them.

And what do I hope even more? That a cure would be found. That cancer would be wiped away, as well as the tears of many who watch their loved ones fight it.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Empty Nest Syndrome

Here I am, just about out of picture room (then I have to pay for space on Picasa) with a bunch of cute kid pictures (or at least I think) waiting to be posted, and what am I doing? Showcasing a couple of baby swallows who made a HUGE mess on my front porch. Where are my priorities? :)

As you may remember, if you have read on here at all, we found a baby swallow in our flowerpot at the beginning of the month. We cared for it for just a few hours until my Superman hubby came home to put the scrawny little baby back in its nest. I guess we bonded in those few hours... I really thought it was going to die. But it didn' least not on our care. And I guess I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure it was one of the two swallows we followed the next month...

Here is Baby Bird we discovered. We watered him frequently and watched it get weaker and weaker...I had no chewed up worms for it to swallow!For a few days, we saw nothing in the nest. The good news is that there was nothing on the ground either. :) Then one day, we saw not one but TWO heads peek over the nest down at us.
They were probably calling for momma who was never far from sight. She would fly back and forth in front of our house, getting closer and closer each time. That is how we knew it was time to US go back in the house. I worried a time or two about getting pecked though I certainly couldn't reach those babies if I had wanted to!Such scrawny little birds!
Hmmm, apparently worms and such are full of calories. I think this picture was taken just two days after the one above. How did they grow so quickly?
They looked more like little hawks to me than swallows.
Getting ready to fly the coop!
Growing, growing...
I knew this day was coming. I knew it was time for them to fly away. But I will admit, I was still a little sad the first time I saw the empty nest. It is a lot like life to me as a mom. You watch them grow those feathers. You nurture and love on them. Then one day they are just gone. And you are happy they have grown and spread their own wings, but you wonder, where did the time go?

And you are just a little sad that it is gone...
Farewell to our feathered friends. We hope we meet again! (Just stay off my porch OR learn how to clean up after yourself!)
More later,

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


We get asked fairly often how we manage life with four kids and busy schedules. I always smile because we have so many friends with more than four kids and probably even busier schedules. Yet there are some days (like yesterday/today), I wonder, "How DO we do this?" One word. The answer is one word. Teamwork.

Let's take Monday for example. It was my first "real" day of school with my own class. So I had to get up a bit early to get going. My students come to my room earlier on the first day than other days. I got up to get ready. Meanwhile, my other half was up getting the kids going for the day. He woke up the big kids, and he laid out clothes for the smallest one. Then he got breakfast ready. After that is done, he went to get ready for the day, and I was on hand to deal with any issues, like spilled milk (thankfully none this time) and brushing hair.

Around 7 (which is not our normal time to leave), I gathered up the girls. They brought their breakfast with them, and we headed to school. About half an hour later, Mark took the boys to their respective schools. The funny thing is that our oldest's school is very near our house and is only a couple of minutes away from my school but with traffic, it can take a very long time to get there. So if Mark is in town, it is better for him to chauffeur than me. (I have a set time to be at work; his day doesn't start quite as early though I am sure it could....)

After school, the girls played in my room while I made sure my students got home. A little bit later, the middle schooler showed up; a friend had picked him up when she picked up her own child. Then we flew out the door, my schoolwork in hand, to pick up our preschooler.

Since my grandmother who has been visiting was leaving tomorrow (Tuesday), we stopped by my parents' house to say good bye to her. We visited for a bit, the kids eating a snack and sharing the news of their day. Then we flew out the door and headed home.

As soon as we got home, I had the big kids bring me any and all paperwork, then they went off to play I rushed around getting dinner (lasagna in a bun) ready. Just as I finished up the prep work and got the meal into the refrigerator, I heard the garage door letting me know Mark was home. I ran out to my car and "tagged" him to be it for a while.

I headed over to the school. It was Open House/Parent Orientation for parents of first/second graders. So I got to take off my teacher hat and be a momma instead (though I never truly take off the teacher hat, especially since I knew some of the parents in the room). While I learned about first grade expectations, Mark bravely took the whole crew to our son's football practice.

As soon as I was done at the school, I stopped by the house and put our sandwiches in the oven, then I headed right back out the door to rescue Mark from the younger crew. He stayed at practice while the other kids joined me. We stopped by McD's for a coke which I highly needed at that point :), then returned home.

We ate a hearty dinner. Then I started the bath/bedtime process for the kiddos. Meanwhile the boys came home and had their dinner. (I am happy that our son is involved in something. I really am. However, I TRULY miss having our family meals!) I read with the younger kids, then between Mark and me, somehow everyone finally went to bed.

Once they were down, I got to work with school paperwork for the kids while Mark worked on the dishwasher. Meanwhile, I also threw a load of laundry in (I am doing the load a day works pretty well!) and wrote out a list which my sweet husband took to the store to get some needed foods for me for school. While he was gone, I checked e-mail and worked on some school notes.

Shortly afterwards, we collapsed exhausted.

Teamwork is the only way we can do it. The only way.

More later,

Sunday, August 22, 2010

It's Getting Easier...

I have been thinking a lot lately about how life is slowly getting easier. Let me clarify...parenting. At least in the physical sense. I don't think emotionally it will ever get easier.

I realized it this summer. On our trip to the beach, I had to pack no diapers or diaper bag. We didn't take the pack and play (we went the sleeping bag route...he still isn't quite ready for a bed!). We didn't even take the stroller this time. The older kids could at least put outfits together for me to double check and pack for themselves. It was just a little easier...

Now when we go out for dinner (like we did tonight/last night depending on how you look at it), we just go. We don't pack a diaper bag or bring bowls of Cheerios to tide them over. We don't bring a bib (though sometimes that is still needed; tonight we used a napkin to protect the shirt). We just go. Even the wait is getting easier as our youngest gets more interested in coloring instead of waiting for food to arrive.

While I am still a stickler for naps when we are home (or at least a quiet time for the older kids), if we need to go somewhere in the afternoon, I know that we can survive (though there may be an earlier bedtime in the future...). That has opened up a lot more possibilities for us.

Even the bedtime routine is getting there. The oldest three can get ready for bed completely on their own (though we still read and pray together). And the youngest can get ready for bed with just a little supervision.

It is getting easier. Slowly but surely.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Feathery Follow Up

I am totally cheating on my update, but last night was very busy with Open Houses.
I just wanted to do a very quick Feathery Follow Up. Our baby swallows are getting SO big. They look like they are just about ready to fly away. I have such mixed feelings about that which is ironic considering I had my baby start preschool and have my oldest start middle school this week. I know they are about ready, but the day I walk out to check on the babies and they aren't there...well, it is going to be a sad day. But it is almost time.
Life is funny that way...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Our Testimony

First off, I wanted to say thank you for thinking about us today. Our son had a great first day (at least from his viewpoint) of preschool. He excitedly told me all about what he did, what he ate for lunch, etc. He was WIRED by the time we got home. I will try to remember to tell you a little more about our afternoon together (after school) tomorrow. For tonight, I am wiped out so I am cheating a little bit on this entry.

Recently our church children's director asked for our testimony about why we chose to adopt. We have some families at our church who have just adopted or are adopting. The director asked for a short article to share in our children's ministry newsletter. Because of some miscommunication, I received the request the day before it was due. It also happened to be the week of swimming lessons. I thought I would share this tonight since I am too tired to think of anything new and original. :) Forgive any errors. I really had less than 24 hours to type it up. (The newsletter showed up in our mailbox like two days later, story intact.) On a side note, some adoptive parents don't like questions about the adoption. I really don't mind, though it seems to bother our daughter if anyone asks in front of her (I try to be subtle :). If you do ever wonder about the adoption process, just leave a comment and ask. :)

"Why did you choose to adopt?"

We get this question often.

I never quite know what to say, so I always just shrug my shoulders and say, "It is a God thing."

In the summer of 2005, we were a family of four. We had a son and a daughter. I often heard that we had the "ideal family" (a boy and a girl). In my mind, our family was complete. Yet that summer, a series of events changed our hearts and our minds. I stumbled upon an adoption waiting list website. Our church went on a mission trip to Mexico and came back with many pictures from an orphanage there. One day in extended session, we had the privilege of speaking with one of the children who was adopted; we quickly saw how her life had been changed. A seed was planted in my heart.

After seeing the photos from the Mexico mission trip, I was positive we needed to adopt from Mexico. I stayed up late at night researching adoption in Mexico only to discover it is very difficult and very challenging and often unsuccessful. I was positive that was what we were supposed to do. One night I went to bed and just prayed to God, "Please change my heart or change my mind!" The next day when I awoke, I returned to that adoption photolisting and decided to look at Guatemala which was at that time open to adoption. I am almost positive our daughter's picture was the first picture I saw. My heart was changed. After much prayer and discussion, we decided to pursue international adoption. Though we were sure that our opportunity to adopt our daughter was slim (since hadn't done a lick of paperwork at that point), God again, as He did MANY times throughout our process, demonstrated His faithfulness and love when we accepted her referral a short time later.

It would take days to share all we learned throughout the adoption process. We came to rely on God in a completely new way. We learned more than ever that God is in control as we watched paperwork get bounced around the government bureaucracy in both countries. We felt the power of prayer through the prayers of our church body, family, and friends. We were able to share God's faithfulness through our family blog. Our life verse, Proverbs 3:5-6, was uttered and recited many times throughout our process.

In August 2006, we traveled to Guatemala to bring our daughter home as our new daughter and a new American citizen. A year and a half later, we returned to Guatemala for a special Christmas gift...our new son.

Parenting adopted children has not always been easy (nothing about parenting is easy!); it presents unique challenges to us as parents. However, Mark has often said, "We did not bring these children home to love us but for us to love them." I am reminded daily who WE are as adopted children of God through the lives of my own children. And we are thankful for the gifts we have been blessed with, because children are truly a heritage from the Lord.

More later,

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

It has been a quiet week in bloggerville. I have gone back and forth debating about whether I needed a break or not. But in the end, it is a good way to unwind, to reflect, to remember. So here I am.

I am officially back in school. Our first day was a day of meetings and getting back into the groove. We did take a train ride which was fun (it involved Arkansas history lessons for the teachers :). And it is always good to be back with my team. It is home away from home. Yesterday we were granted the privilege of working in our classrooms. All day. It was wonderful. I got a whole lot accomplished.

At home, we are getting back into that school routine too. Earlier bedtimes. Getting up earlier. How to do it all. Okay, honestly, I haven't learned how to do that yet.

To help get back in the school routine, I am going to make some changes this year (I hope). Kind of my New Year Resolutions.

Things like...
  • doing a load of laundry every day. FlyLady recommends it, and I hope to keep it up. Surely I can do it. I have really be making more effort in this area. Most of our marriage, Mark has done at least half (probably over half) of the laundry. And he does it without complaint. However, I want to be more wifely and do more of it myself. We will see. It has worked so far.
  • planning meals each week and grocery shopping once if possible. I used to try two weeks but then I had to have two carts. I will stick with one for now. The good news is sometimes I plan for a meal then we have a change of plans (like unexpected football practice), so then that night's meal can carry over to another week.
  • Coupons. I need to get back to coupons. I need to be more frugal. I am fairly good about cutting coupons out. I am not so good about remembering to take them with me. Hopefully I will get back into that. (I used to do it and loved that feeling of accomplishment)
  • Exercise. My goal is to spend 15 minutes in the morning on the elliptical as I slowly wake up. I hope to use that time for prayer (which is another area to work on in life). Then if I get more exercise in the afternoon, I am that much further ahead. If I don't, at least I have gotten a little bit in the morning!
  • Prayer. See above. And reading the Bible. I don't do well with "quiet times" in the summer. And honestly, since gaining a fourth child, I don't do well with them really any of the time. I need to do better. I can feel it in my life. I am missing something, and I don't want to be. I have put God on the backburner too long.
  • Organizing. If I can just do one little organizing job a day, then hopefully eventually it will show in our house!
  • Attention to the kids. I want to give them more of me when we get home beyond homework supervision and refereeing their arguments. Especially the younger two. I will admit, this one is a struggle. Not that I don't pay attention to them. It is just difficult to do when we first get home. I tend to settle in with the computer or housework, just to find some downtime (which I have NONE of). But sometimes that needs to wait.

I am sure there are many more things I can add, but I will stick with this for now.

I better get going for now. The kids are a little wound up. The longer I stay in here working, the higher the chance that someone is going to get hurt. Yep, the crying has already begun...

More later,


Sunday, August 8, 2010

What I Did This Summer

You know how people set lofty goals/resolutions in January for the New Year? Well, while I try that on occasion, I am just about as lofty in thought in June as I look upon the "whole summer" before me. I find myself setting goals for myself, ways I can improve the house, the children, me throughout the summer.

Come August, I find myself looking back over the summer and wondering, "Where the heck did it go?" (Sorry if that word offends anyone, it just emphasizes the strength of my statement. :) This year is no different.

What did I plan to do this summer? Organize a room a week. Make a new recipe each week. Lose 10 pounds. Read the Bible in 90 days (that was our church's challenge to us). Redo the girls' room. Exercise regularly.

Well, I did attempt the room thing but didn't hit every room in the house. Really, just a couple rooms, and even then, not thoroughly. I did make a few new recipes, but there were weeks we were doing good to get dinner made at all (like swimming lesson week). 10 pounds? I don't think I lost one. I have avoided the scales, so I can't say for sure. The Read the Bible in 90 days was ruined in the first couple of weeks. For one thing, the schedule started at the end of school. I was in complete survival mode and couldn't read 15 chapters at a time. By the time I was done with school, I was so far behind, there was nothing I could do. And while you would think I would have more "quiet time" in the summer, I actually do better during the school year when I am on a schedule. The girls' room? Well, not doing it was partly them, partly me. I will not do anything to it until I can see they are serious about taking care of it. 'Nuff said about that. :) Finally, exercise? On occasion. I have a hard time exercising when it is really hot outside.

My first instinct is to fret over what I didn't accomplish. It is easy to put myself down for failing. I feel like a big failure. I had goals, and I didn't accomplish them. Trust me, I have thought these things many times. I have beat myself black and blue over it.

Then about a week ago, I thought to myself, "If I didn't do those things, what DID I do?" I started to formulate a list in my head...
  • I stayed on top of laundry. In fact, I think I washed, folded, and put away more laundry this summer than I do in a typical school year (thanks to a very helpful hubby). I am actually kind of hoping I can do that this school year too by following Fly Lady's plan of a load of laundry a day. We will see how that goes.
  • I visited Las Vegas for the first time. I walked the Strip. I saw the lights. I visited the M and M store (which was one of my favorite parts!). I saw Cirque du Soleil: Ka for the first time.
  • I visited the Grand Canyon for the first time. There are no words, no photos that do justice to that amazing scene!
  • I rode in a Hummer for the first time. (part of our Grand Canyon tour)
  • I took our oldest to his first summer camp. Well, took him to the church where they departed. It was MUCH harder than I anticipated.
  • I picked child 2 up from basketball camp. I am thankful for her daddy for taking her. It is difficult to get everyone up and going just to take one child to activities.
  • I made breakfast (some days easy, some days a little more elaborate) pretty much every day for five of us except Sundays. And lunch.
  • I organized our "office supply" drawer in the kitchen.
  • I went for a bike ride with child 1. We didn't make it far because it was VERY hot out. But it was a start!
  • I had my first snow cone from a shaved ice place. (We usually just make our own snow cones around here :)
  • I went through a Mommy/Daughter Bible study this summer with child 2. It was very good, but WAY out of my comfort zone.
  • I organized about three years of memorabilia from the kids' birthday parties, school highlights, etc.
  • I packed a week of clothes/shoes/hair accessories for child 3 to spend time with Meme and Papaw in Mississippi.
  • I planned, prepared, and held the girls' family birthday party.
  • I bought and wrapped 10+ gifts for each child to open on our vacation.
  • We traveled to Gulf Shores, AL for our week at the beach, oil and all.
  • I visited the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola for the first time.
  • I climbed 177 steps up (and then back down) on a trip to a lighthouse...another first for me.
  • I toured the USS Alabama. I lost track of how many steps that involved!
  • I visited a "fort".
  • I saw stingrays swimming under me on the pier.
  • I hiked about four miles, parts of it in the rain, on a sandy trail in brand new shoes...big mistake!
  • I witnessed oil clean up on the beach right outside our townhouse.
  • I took and picked up child 1 from sports camp four days a week for three weeks (Mark did do it a few times).
  • I renewed my library card. We also made a few trips to the library.
  • We fed the ducks at the "duck park".
  • We survived swim lesson week...hopefully my last in the water for "Mommy and Me" as well as witnessing our first swim team graduate. I am proud of him but do rejoice in some of the glory since I have taken him to lessons every summer since he was six months old.
  • I organized photo vocabulary cards for my classroom AND made a database of them.
  • I signed a million papers (more or less) to refinance our house.
  • I visited the Roaring River for the first time and watched my kids go down their first "waterslide".
  • I finally visited my sister's house, new to me but no longer to them, in Kansas to deliver child 3 for a week of horse camp there.
  • I cleared out a huge stack of magazines.
  • I have played numerous games of Word Twist, Scrabble, and Words with Friends. Won some, lost some. (I feel like it helps keep my mind young. :)
  • I saw a movie with my two big kids.
  • I had a birthday.
  • We had the cousins come over for a sleepover.
  • I had a check up, which I only do every few years...
  • I read three novels just for fun!
  • We delivered several bags of extra stuff to Goodwill as we cleaned out clothes and cabinets.
  • I bought and labeled almost all of the school supplies for four kids.
  • I made and delivered lunch to our church interns.
  • I tried new recipes (maybe not weekly but several anyway)...the Lasagna in a Bun is a new favorite!
  • I researched dogs for a pet (takes a lot of research with our kids and my allergies) and decided that it is not in our best interest at this time to have one.
  • I cleaned out the fridge and the pantry.
  • I grew my hair a few inches...hopefully I am getting close to being able to cut it. It is driving me crazy!
  • I vacuumed our air conditioning vents.
  • I cleaned out and vacuumed the van. Not an easy chore. Unfortunately, it already needs to be done again!
  • I cleaned out and organized my spices (and yes, they are alphabetized...much easier to find that way).
  • I cleaned out our cups cabinet and got rid of a lot of our "baby" dishes. :(
  • I changed child 4's crib to a bed, then a few days later, changed it back!
  • Possibly saved a baby bird. I checked the nest tonight...saw TWO baby birds peering down at me! That made my heart feel a lot better.
  • I had my first dinner at Hugo's with a friend. Yum, yum!
  • I have already spent several hours in the classroom and at home preparing for the new school year.

Hmmm, I suddenly am not feeling like such a failure after all...

So, what did you accomplish this summer? Think about it. I bet you will find out you have done more than you thought! I know I have.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Gifts from the Heart

Yes, I am still blogging about my birthday. I am getting old, you know. If I don't record these moments, I may just not remember them!

So in my last post, I shared about my birthday day including some of the fun gifts from my parents. Today I wanted to share a few gifts from the heart I received from my hubby and kids...

One special gift of the heart I received was from my main man (that would be my hubby). Throughout the day I received e-mails from him (which always thrills my heart anyway) listing a few reasons that he loves me. By the end of the day, he had sent me like six e-mails listing 39 things in all that he loved about me. I won't share all of them; some things are meant to be private. (Believe it or not, I really don't bare ALL on here :) But I will say that reading about how he loves how I wiggle my toes constantly (which I didn't realize I did but he is right!) or that he loves how I do the laundry even though he knows I don't love to do that (in the slightest!) warmed my heart. He really does know me, "get me", and "appreciate" me! It was a special gift, one I will always treasure.

Another precious gift I received came from child 2. Last week she was going through my fabric box searching for something. Don't fall over. I have a fabric box. I don't use it or anything but I do have one. Anyway, she came upon a large piece of fleece that I have used before making blankets. (When the kids reach a certain age, I make them a special blanket by fringing/knotting a patterned fleece against a background fleece) She was very interested in how to make a blanket and decided to make one herself. I knew she was doing that (hers is just one piece of fleece) during naptimes. What I didn't realize was that she was making it for me. The night of the birthday celebration, she handed me a wrapped package, and I found this inside:

She had knotted it all around, creating "fringe" and then put a special message on it. The only downside is that she used regular marker, so if I put the written side toward me, I am left with colorful clothes. :) It was very sweet, an unexpected gesture. I love her generous heart.

And finally, an even more unexpected gift came from child 1. He proudly presented a "card" to me. The card had 10 reasons he loved me. No, his father had nothing to do with it. I did ask. :) If you know how much child 1 dislikes writing, you would know what a very special gift this was. Apparently he was hard at work in his room, and I had no idea.

Edited for spelling and punctuation...

"The 10 Love Hearts for Mom"

1. She's beautiful.

2. She moves as gracefully as a swan. (Sidenote: That one made me laugh because I am fairly clumsy :)

3. She's good at cooking.

4. I love her clothes.

5. She's a good reader.

Bonus (written under number 5 as a decoration...she loves Coke)

6. She is a good hiker.

7. She loves her kids.

8. She likes to shop.

9. She likes scrapbooking. (Sidenote: That pretty much stopped after child 2 :)

10. She loves waterfalls.

Happy birthday!

Yes, you guessed it. I cried. Very sweet gesture.

Completely a gift from the heart.

I am blessed.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

His Eye is on the Sparrow...

or in our case, the swallow.

Every year we have a swallow couple that makes a nest right above our front door. We do knock it down once we know it is empty but apparently, they are loyal to their homebases. They return every single year and build in the exact same spot. It really doesn't bother me other than it makes a REALLY big mess on our front porch.

The last few days we have been finding eggshells on our steps. I actually thought the babies had already arrived, so that was a new twist. The nest is so high up; I cannot see what is in it. I just see the nest with feathers sticking out. Apparently there are baby birds.

Today I was watching our youngest run out to get the newspaper. It is "his job". He loves to do it. I had someone stop and ask once if we trained him to do that. Um, no. He isn't a dog. He just likes to do it. Anyway, as he was fetching the paper, I mean getting it for me :), I happened to notice a small bundle in our big flower pot which has no flowers right now. (It is too stinkin' hot...nothing can grow!) When I looked closer, I realized it was a baby bird. My heart stopped. Then I noticed it was breathing...barely. I felt a small panic attack come on as my dear little children all stood around me looking at the bird.

I finally decided to bring the baby bird in for a little bit until I had a chance to research how to help it. After all, we are in the hottest days of summer right now. I had someonegrab a shoe box, threw some dirt and leaves in it, and donned some rubber gloves and transferred the baby to the box. I then put a little water in a dropper and tried to feed Baby Bird. Oh, that poor baby. It kept stretching its little neck out, mouth wide open, squeaking. I felt SOOO helpless. I kept explaining to the kids that it was likely going to die. (One daughter, a "practical" child, immediately started planning its burial...)

After doing a little research (thumbs up to the two oldest children who also helped research via Google and a question/answer book), I realized that we were in way over our heads. Yet, I couldn't just dump it outside so that a neighborhood cat had its morning snack. Apparently baby birds eat every 15 or 20 minutes all day long. Not to mention, I have no clue what to feed a baby bird. I am thinking Cheerios is not the answer. So for a while we just fed it water. I felt so bad. It was so scrawny. And it was SOOO hungry. It would stretch its neck out just hoping for a real meal. Instead, it got water. (And all I could think of was that book "Are You My Mother?")

One thing I read while researching was that it is illegal to care for wildlife unless you are qualified. I just want to clarify, we had it in our house for just a few hours. That was as far as the care went. In fact, the other thing I kept reading was that it needed to be returned to its nest. I had always heard that once it was around humans, the momma bird will have nothing to do with it. According to my "research", that is a myth. I actually got our ladder and attempted to return it to its nest, but immediately ran into problems (beyond the fact that I was trying to do all of this in my pajamas). One is that the nest is REALLY high up. Another is that the ladder is wider than our steps. And the biggest problem is that I am highly afraid of heights. I know when to hold them, and I know when to fold them. I quickly brought the ladder back in and called for help. "Mark!"

Upon further reading, I read that baby birds need protein. I ended up mixing together some egg whites with a little milk which it seemed to take, but it was so very weak. My heart just ached. I got to where I was dreading looking in the box and a couple times was sure it had died.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Mark appeared, our hero in a cape. Okay, no cape. But still our hero. He leaned the ladder (closed) up against the house. I stood at the bottom and held it, and he climbed up and put Baby Bird back into the nest.

I have no false illusions. I am not really thinking the baby bird made it. It was so weak and in need of momma's care. Not to mention, a fall that far had to have hurt its little body. But we tried. I am just glad we spotted it when we did (which was a freak thing in itself) so we could at least give it a chance...

All of this to say...

Some days you get up and have no idea what kind of life lessons you will face or have the privilege of teaching your children. Lessons about life and death. About wild animals and their needs. About family relationships. About God and His creations. But some days those lessons present themselves, ready or not. And it is our job as parents to meet the lessons head on then to help our children navigate through them.

An interesting note: child 3 was the one who was the most concerned about the fact that the baby bird was NOT with its momma. She kept following me around the house, "Do you think the baby bird wishes it was with its momma?" "Do you think the momma bird wonders where the baby bird is?" The questions went on and on. Sometimes when we are having those talks, I wonder at what level we are really speaking. Is it about birds or is it about little girls from Guatemala? I don't know the answer, so I just try to affirm her fears whether they are truly for Baby Bird or for her.

So long story short, or maybe a short story long, that was our morning. What kind of life lessons did you get to face/teach today? :)


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back...

I did have a good birthday. Thank you for the birthday greetings/wishes. I will probably share more tomorrow; I haven't had a chance to edit the pictures my dear husband took. :)

Today will be short. Not sure about sweet. And honestly there isn't much reason to it. Sometimes you just have to vent.

I have a rule that MOST of the time I stick with. I don't go to my classroom before August. I feel like the summer is my time with family. Not that I don't do some planning or researching and occasionally taking a workshop/professional development class at times during the summer but I really try to be "present" while we are at home. I will admit, there are times I am a bit envious when I read about co-workers going in and really cleaning out their rooms. I need to do that. But like a lot of things in my life, for now, this is where I am and some things will have to wait.

Of course, now it is August. So now the juggling of roles begins!

Sunday night we all went up to the classroom (first day of August) to move furniture. Most years when I go in, everything is in one spot, including some really tall cabinets, usually not where I need them to be. I often just move them myself then moan about the back pain later. This year I thought ahead and asked Mark to help so I could get to work later in the week on the smaller details. Wouldn't you know that the the BIG furniture was all in its spot already? My whole family did help (well, most of them) get the other "furniture" into their spots. It was a big help. It at least looks like it is supposed to, just a little bare.

Today I needed to be out of the house for a while, so I took the kid crew with me to the school to "work". I let them take a movie to watch (partly because it is too stinkin' hot outside to do anything else). Three of the four settled right in to watch the movie. One little tornado did not. He watched about 15 minutes, then he was done. Since the other kids were watching the movie and not playing with him (which he is so used to), that left me. So I was trying to accomplish some things while he came behind me and undid them either by asking a thousand questions, demanding help doing something, or getting toys out. Thus the title. One step forward, two steps back.

By the end of our time (less than two hours), the big kids had decided to play too. Of course, nobody uses the nice block set to build or gets out a rousing game of Candyland. They invent games. And in the end, something was broken, I was not much further ahead, and my blood pressure was rather high.

The funny/ironic thing is that last week at swimming lessons, a friend asked me how to do it all. She is returning to work after a long absence (staying home with kids who will now all be in school). She said she heard that I had it all together and that I managed it so I might have some tips.

Today I just shook my head in frustration. I obviously don't.


It will all get done, right? (Nod your head in agreement with me :)
More later,

Monday, August 2, 2010

39 and Holding...

Yes, it is true. I am now 39. Or will be later this afternoon. I will admit. I have been dreading this one because I am REALLY dreading the next one. I know, I know, it is just a number. And it is better than the alternative (well, kind of :). But I am feeling a bit...old. And like I should be so much wiser than I am. I guess I am facing that, "What am I doing with my life? What kind of impact am I making? How will I be remembered one day?" Those fun questions. Yep, thus far, 39 is a really fun age to be. :)

Okay, so to be more positive, if you have read at all (or if you are even reading now :), then you know that every year I make a list of blessings in my life...the exact number that my age is. Obviously if I am still doing this at 70, I am going to have to start a week or so earlier. But I always have this list running in my mind. Believe it or not, I am trying to cut back on food items on the list though I could probably do a whole list just WITH food...I really enjoy food. Oh, and one other note, I do not typically read back through old lists, so there is a REALLY good chance that I have used some of these before, and that is okay. It is my birthday, and I can do what I want. :)

So, here, in no particular order is my list...

39 things I am thankful for...

39. Taking a Sunday afternoon nap, even better on a rainy day!

38. My I "Heart" San Francisco shirt. It is threadbare. I would give anything to have another one just like it (and trust me I have looked). But it brings back such wonderful memories of my birthday two years ago. Right behind that is my Gulf Shores t-shirt.

37. A dark chocolate Ghiradelli square with caramel that has chilled in the freezer so it is really "crunchy" as I bite into it.

36. Dry Erase Crayons. These are new. I bought a couple boxes for my classroom. I wish I had bought more. I love them. I think it is a kindergarten teacher thing.

35. Blogging. I love blogging. I know it is on its way out as the "fad" thing to do, but for me, it is a great way to remember family happenings. I cannot tell you how many times I have searched to remember when something happened or what birthday theme a child had a particular year. I have also made some good friends through blogging. And it is a good outlet for me.

34. Grabbing a towel that has just come out of the dryer.

33. Slow Cooker bags. I love those things. Just used one Sunday morning as my Pork Tenderloin slow cooked while we were at church. Makes clean up SO much easier!

32. Pedicures. I need another one. (I have a certificate, just have to pawn off the children for a bit :) I didn't have one for years and now I am hooked. At least in the summer.

31. Wearing jeans. I didn't say I looked good in them. But I am SOOO comfortable in them.

30. An ice cold Mtn. Dew OR a Coke from McDonald's. Depends on what I am eating.

29. Playing Word Games (Word Twist, Scrabble, Words with Friends)...rejuvenates my mind while at the same time reminding me of how very limited my vocabulary is!

28. Our youngest wrapping his arms around my neck, squeezing VERY hard, and telling me, "I wuv oo, Mommy." Melts my heart.

27. My Michael W. Smith New Hallelujah CD. I really never tire of it. Love to hear it, love to sing it (and just pray nobody else can hear me)

26. A rainbow across a cloudy sky

25. A big bowl of hot baked potato soup with a side dish of French bread and olive oil/dipping spices. Yum.

24. Watching the world "green up" in the spring

23. Child 2's "mothering" heart. She is such a natural mom (probably does it better than I do) with a love for her siblings. Well, most of them. :)

22. A hot bath and a new magazine. 'Nuff said.

21. A hike on a cool (NOT cold) day in a new place...bonus if there is a waterfall.

20. Those late night heart to heart talks with my hubby (because that is the ONLY time we will not be interrupted)

19. Not setting my alarm clock. I live for that in the summer.

18. A healing God. I have needed that in my life (and my friends' lives) more this year than ever. I am thankful He heals both bodies and spirits. And I am also thankful He still loves me and holds onto me even when I am not holding onto Him.

17. Watching cousins play together

16. Teaching students in February. Oh, I love teaching any time, but February is my favorite. They are off of the Christmas excitement and spring fever has yet to hit. I see more progress that time of year than any other!

15. Our firstborn's confidence in himself. He is comfortable in his own skin. I love that about him and almost envy that!

14. Finding money around the house unexpectedly. (Unfortunately, it is usually a dollar or two, but hey, I take what I can get)

13. Facebook. I have been able to connect/reconnect with SO many people from all areas of my life, all the way back to elementary school. It is also such an encouragement when I have a question or am having a rough day. I post and more often than not, I have responses within moments with answers or encouragement.

12. Watching the sun set over the ocean as I walk along the beach, my bare feet buried in the warm sand. (Then later that night listening to the waves crash against the shore...)

11. Digital cameras. I love taking pictures (which is probably why I have over 11,000 pictures on this computer. I know, I know, I need to filter some out...), and I love being able to edit them. I still remember the days of coming home with pictures from my old camera, only to find that over half of them were blurry.

10. My reusable grocery bags. I really do try to be fairly green. Plus they hold SO much more. I go from having 20 plastic bags to 8 or less fabric bags!

9. White lilies and roses. They just are so pure, so beautiful.

8. The colors of fall in NWArkansas

7. High school football games even though I recognize more and more the names of the players as former students which again makes me feel old. :)

6. An unexpected note or e-mail from a former student or their parents...thrills my heart more than you can ever know.

5. How child 3's whole face lights up when she is happy and smiling; it brightens the room.

4. Laughing until tears roll down my face and my side hurts...usually happens after watching Psyche or The Office.

3. My kindergarten team. They make my job even that much better. They are family. When they hurt, I hurt. When they celebrate, I celebrate.

2. Brand new white Keds. I am not a fancy girl. I love my Keds. Love them even more when they are all white and pretty. At least until someone steps on my toes. And they will.

1. You! Thanks for reading this all the way through. I would imagine if you took the time to do it, you are a friend or a family member which means I value you and our relationship! Thank you for being my friend (in spite of who I am :)

Have a great day!
PS Honorable mentions go out to the following foods: Fool's Gold pizza at Tim's pizza, a bowl of lobster bisque at Powerhouse, the grasshopper crepes at Hugo's, the dark chocolate molten caramel lava cake at Theo's, dungeness crab legs at Joe's crab shack, flaming queso at Marketplace, and shrimp/scallops all over the globe. :)
PSS I only specifically mention the kids and Mark once, though I could make a list that goes on and on about all of them. I had to limit myself. :)