Fall Saturday

Today I woke up feeling every bit of the past two months hectic schedule.  I returned to full-time teaching seventh grade English, the kids are busy in first and second grade and my husband continues his assignment as seventh and eighth grade science teacher among his many coaching endeavors.

Between work and school, we are managing to squeeze in AWANA, Cub Scouts and cheerleading, physicals and appointments, so it seems like a clear day in our schedule is a rarity.  That, and the fact that we are patiently awaiting news on when we will close on the sale of our home!

This past week, we had parent-teacher conferences which went fabulously, but added a few more evening hours than we typically spend at school.  Today, I woke with aches and pains and willed myself not to be getting sick.  It felt like my body was finally feeling the full weight of all that’s been on my mind (and calendar)!  It was trying to tell me to slow down.

So I did.

In fact, I started slowing down yesterday afternoon as we selected pumpkins with the kids and I commented to a friend at the patch that I need to take more pictures of things because I’m going to wish I did someday.  When 6- and 7-years-old seems small, I’m going to wish I had photos that capture their toothy grins, and round faces.  So yesterday afternoon, we carved pumpkins, baked cookies and took pictures.  Today, we created bead crafts, and my girl and I have been gloriously enjoying our pajamas ALL DAY!   I’ve caught up on some pictures that have been far too long in the processing, and I’m so grateful to have the chance to relive some of the memories as I clicked through each image.  And, after having been out of the classroom last year, I almost forgot how quickly my students become intertwined into the memories of our lives.

HalloweenBoard1

I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with some amazing children in my classes.  Just last weekend, I witnessed some amazingly kind and selfless acts of service by these students.  A group of sixth graders and their parents were raking leaves, planting bulbs and otherwise beautifying our school grounds.  A colleague helped the students get started, and informed me they have another round of work they plan to do in the spring.  It was quite a sight to see as I headed out last Friday afternoon.

Then, on Saturday, I was so proud of my sweet daughter for conquering her fear and performing her mascot cheer dance routine at the Cheer for Charity event.  I had never attended before and as I watched the elementary teams, along with the middle and high school teams, I was proud of their athleticism and their spirit.  Yet, the most inspiring of all was the whole idea behind the event.  Hearing what the girls did to raise money for local animal shelters, national foundations, or families facing medical conditions – it brought tears to my eyes.

CheerBoard1

So, I will relish our clear schedule today.  I will seek rest in my body, mind and soul as I think, read, write and reflect on all the blessings in my life.  And I will awake renewed, knowing that I serve a mighty God who has a great plan in store for me, my students, and my family.

HalloweenFun049

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.