The Little Things

Tonight, as I enjoy the chill of the conditioned air in our room, there are a thousand and one thoughts swirling through my mind.  The start of another school year is on the horizon along with so many other possible changes.  It seems strange to think that at this time last year, I was preparing for my year-long sabbatical, and here it is time to return to the classroom.  

Looking back on the year I had at home, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  There are so many more things I wish I would have done, and yet, there are so many moments I am beyond grateful for.  I wish I would’ve written more, but I figured there’s no better time to start than now.  

So today, I want to remember the smell of our clean summer skin and the sweet flavor of the ice cream on my tongue as we piled into our bed to watch Mary Poppins last night.  I want to recall the heaviness of their growing bodies as they fidgeted and squirmed throughout the show.  I sat mesmerized as Seneca danced, twirled and spun her way around our room offering her best British accent among head flips and wrist snaps.  I imagine watching her perform someday on stage after hours of ballet, or jazz rehearsal.  Or seeing her triumph over a mastered gymnastics routine.  In her six-year-old self, I can see the hint of the amazing young lady to come.

And Calder – he continues to amaze me.  The speed at which his mind is constantly whirring is beyond belief.  This summer he wanted to make a mechanical hand – we have yet to tackle that project, but I hope to foster his creativity and ingenuity.  Ever the problem solver, he has an answer at the ready for most questions.  A natural joker and newfound prankster, I pray for the patience to encourage his sense of humor and not the snappish frustration that I tend to fall into easily.  I want to hold close moments like yesterday, when I grabbed his hand and ran toward the 3-legged race at our church’s community fun fest.  Eager, and likely shocked at my spontaneity, he grinned as we stepped into the itchy burlap sack.  Arms wrapped around one another, we took a few practice steps.  We figured out that saying “Inside, Outside” would help keep us moving the correct leg, and from repeating the faceplant he experienced in the earlier sack race.  The announcer put us at the ready, and we were off.  “Inside!  Outside!  Inside!  Outside!”  We were cruising, and lengthening our stride with each step.  At the finish line, we were edged out of first place, but it hardly mattered.  For those 25 feet, we were a team.  Together, we moved step-by-step and it was amazing!  He beamed.  And we wore our plastic 2nd place medals with pride.  

No matter how busy life gets or how often they bicker, I’m so grateful for these little things that remind me just how fleeting these years really are, and how much I desperately want to savor as much of them as possible.

breathe.

I sit
cross-legged at my
regular post
on the living room floor.

Computers glow
in front of me
while the
television
keeps me company.

I pray
heart wide open from my
usual state of mind
on the cusp of something new.

Dawn breaks
ahead
while
God’s love
surrounds me.

Surprise Snack

This is reposted from my school blog where I am participating in a month-long blogging challenge to write a small, slice-of-life story each day throughout the month of March.  This is the fourth time I’ve taken on the challenge, though last year I struggle to keep up.

When March rolled around, I thought about writing from this blog, but decided to keep it consistent and use the one I’ve used for all past challenges.  But, I might, from time to time, repost something here.  Because more often than not, I find myself writing about my family, I’m sure much to the chagrin of my students.

Perhaps, when I return to the classroom in the fall, I will try to structure it differently – professional and personal, school blog and personal blog.  But then again, perhaps not.  Because writing is writing and we are all inspired by so many different things.  So, for now…here’s a little slice from yesterday…

*                         *                          *

Today, we’re resting and recovering in hopes of returning to full health for the week ahead. I realize how rarely these days tend to come around, and how we might fare better if we took these days more often while healthy, instead of only after days of sickness.  Soft blankets surround snuggled bodies on comfortable couches.  Laughter and light fill the living room where we have played, talked, watched, and read throughout the morning.

With our encouragement, the kids headed upstairs to play in Seneca’s room.  We could hear them playing and were suspicious of the enthusiasm with which they bounded down the stairs, and their warnings to stay out of the kitchen.  A few minutes later and the whispered clanking we’d heard all made sense.

Excitedly, they presented me with the snack they’d prepared – Chicken in a Biskit crackers with Nutella, and cold coffee with creamer.

snack

If you’d have told me ten years ago that such a snack could have warmed my heart, I might have agreed to be polite.  But I realize now that it’s not about the snack at all, but the motivation of kindness that brings joy to my soul.

I believe…

Not since 2004, in the glow of newly-wedded bliss, do I ever remember 3 consecutive snow days. Back then, my young spouse and I passed the time with long treks through the piles of snow, delicious meals with his folks – who weathered the storm in our small apartment for 2 of the 3 days!

Here we are, a decade later, and we are on our second run of 3 straight snow days.  In fact, the first stretch, was actually 4 days in a row with a two-week holiday break in there too!  And the craziest thing – it’s. only. January.

Here we are, having made homemade pretzels, chocolate fondue, pies, crock-pot dinners, Valentine’s decorations, we’ve rearranged and clean most of the house, done laundry, exercised a bit, read a handful of books, and watched far too many movies.  So, what’s left?  Purging old computer files and finding a few keepers, like this one from May 2011.

I believe each day is a chance for a fresh start, a moment to erase past failures and reach new goals. I believe that despite my best efforts, I always start a school year stronger than I tend to finish one. I believe my seemingly endless revisions to lesson plans and classroom goals will eventually pay off. I believe teaching is hard work and sharing that work with intelligent, compassionate, strong colleagues will make me a better person. I believe my students have as much to teach me as I have to teach them. I believe in consistency and struggle to maintain it. I believe in taking time each and every day to let go of standards, to-do lists and be fully present in our lives.

Reading this both takes me back and makes me think of what lies ahead as I come to the half-way mark of my year leave of absence from teaching.  It’s a decision and a test of faith that I have not, and never will regret ~ this, I believe.

It’s happening…

Slowly, but surely and with a few well-timed trips to the library, a few well-chosen independent reading books, and several read-alouds that we’ve plowed through some in just a couple of days.  He’s being bitten by the reading bug.  

Tonight, we stopped by the library and his first question was if we could have just a “hang out” kind of time at the library.  The past few trips were quick in-and-out just to get something specific.  Hanging our coats, and settling in to peruse the new releases before making our way to the puppet show and plastic grill, I felt thankful for the chance to settle in and have such an afternoon.  I watched as they performed a sweet show for me, and ate all manner of plastic hot dogs, felt pizza, and burgers that were balanced, dropped, returned, and balanced again on small spatulas, all the while adoring the chef’s hat and apron my son proudly wore.  

We left with a good 7 or 8 books (and a printed list of all we have checked out!), and both kids read the entire way home.  Upon arriving home, Seneca and I headed inside so she could read to Daddy, while Calder hung back in the van for a few minutes – still buckled, side door open, winter-booted leg crossed one over the other.  He came in to say he’d finished a second book!!

He glanced through the stack I’d placed on the kitchen cabinet and found Book One of the 39 Clues series.  Intrigued, he looked it over and headed upstairs to the hall shelf, where we had the exact same book already!  I knew we had something, but I didn’t realize it was the same one!  Thankfully, it added to his intrigue!

After dinner, Garth started the book with him, while Seneca and I added a few more rows to the cross stitch project we started recently.  We read devotions together and headed to respective bedrooms.  “Can we read just one more chapter, please Mom?” Calder begged.  

“How about…5 pages?” I countered.

“Sure, sounds good!”

Pages read, I climb off the dinosaur bedspread and scoop up the limp body of a sleeping puppy – the perfect reading companion!  Heading upstairs, I left him to read a few more pages on his own while I went up to snuggle with Sis.  

Twenty-minutes, and nearing the end of another chapter, I peek in and see him beaming, and exhausted, and unable, to put the book down.  “Mom, do we have another lamp?” A few minutes later, his old reading lamp is returned to it’s spot on the shelf above his bed, shining down on his toothless grin where he sleepily giggles, “This is so fun!  It’s like I’m in my own little bubble.”  

I kiss his head, and head out giving him 5 more minutes.

Image

As he snaps off his light, I share with him my love of waking up in the morning, finding my book and reading in the morning light.  Leaving his room, I can barely keep my breath calm, as I think of all the adventures that await my sweet reader.