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.

Gratitude ~ Day 6

“You mean I get to leave class early for a doctor’s appointment?” she asked, eyes gleaming.

“That’s what I mean,” I said as I kissed her goodnight.

*                         *                         *

I enter the main doors and round the corner to the main office.  There, through the picture window, just barely peeking over the sill she sits with her grey sweater dress and shoulder-length blonde locks.  I notice a haphazard blue hair clip dangling near her ear and smile knowing she must have found and added it after I dropped her off this morning.

When she sees me, her face brightens.  “Mama!”  she says.

“Ready to go?”

“Uh huh!  Just like we said last night.”

Today, I’m thankful the feel of her hand in mine as we jump over puddles to visit the pediatrician.

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Summer Fun and Change on the Horizon

I always do this.  I start a project, or restart one, with every sort of good intention.  I think the biggest lesson I’m learning in life right now is simply to do what I can, when I can.  So, I’m not going to stress, or apologize, or back-blog the thousand and one small moments that I’ve taken note of since my last post in February.  There were some great (and not-so-great) moments.

Instead, I’m going to start here.  Start now.  Sitting in the early morning in a quiet house in southern California.  Months of planning, saving and anticipating our trip are finally unfolding into an amazing experience for our family.

We’re here visiting Uncle Luke and Aunt Ann, and hoped we’d get an early surprise ~ Baby Ewing’s arrival, but it seems she’s quiet comfortable and will make her debut in a few more weeks as scheduled!  Nonetheless, we’ve had clear sunny skies, relaxing afternoons, and magical days at Disney.  As we cross the half-way point of our vacation, we’re about to embark on a journey to Sea World which is sure to thrill everyone, especially my little marine biologist in the making.  He’s been talking about this ever since we Skyped with L and A back last summer! 🙂

As with any trip we’ve taken, we’ve done what we could to plan and prepare, both ourselves and the kids.  We’ve fully expected periodic meltdowns, and I suppose we’ve had a few.  But the bigger picture seems much brighter than I could have ever hoped for.  There have been belly laughs and wide-eyed awe, hand-holding and morning snuggles, unprompted pleases and thank-yous, and seeing the kids grow before my eyes has been one of the greatest parts of this trip for me.

Stay tuned for what’s sure to be a lengthy picture post indeed! 🙂

As for the change, it still seems so far away because we went right from school, to packing, to vacation and there hardly seems to have been time to really think about the upcoming fall.  And yet, it’s there, on the horizon.  This year, after much consideration, I’ll be taking the year off to spend focused on home and health.  I’m not sick, but given all the various ups and downs I’ve experienced with teaching, I truly felt that if I didn’t do something drastic and get my head back on straight, I wouldn’t last another year, let alone another 15 until retirement.

So, I’m going to read, write, pray, learn, cook, clean, organize, purge, budget, encourage, prepare, volunteer, counsel, and cherish the time I have this upcoming school year.  I welcome any advice and covet each prayer.

That hurts…

My students have given me a chuckle or two over the past 5 years, and Lord knows they’ve inspired a few thousand tears as well.  Just when I think I have a general understanding of middle school students they go and surprise me once again.  Whether they’re exclaiming, “That’s so2004, Mrs. C” or identifying the “descriptious” words in their novel, there are some priceless bits offered up on a daily basis.

Today, however, came a personal blow.  I’m convinced that my first year, I may have shriveled up and cried (ok, not really).  A few short years spent with middle schoolers and I’ve learned to let many comments roll right off my back!  I was informed (very politely, I might add) “you have a Nanny McPhee tooth!” 

That’s right, dear student!  I am so happy to see you activating your prior knowledge and making connections to the truly relevant aspects of our class instruction!

$182.03

The exact cost of a nasty bout of the flu when one has no more sick days left due to taking maternity leave.  Here’s hoping one stays healthy so as to avoid these astronomical charges yet again!