Monday, November 30, 2015

A Lot Can Happen In 7 months...

7 months, holy blog strike?!  I seriously never anticipated that long of a unintentional break!!  So A LOT has happened in 7 months...here is a brief recap, and I am sure in the next month I will catch up, hopefully!

May-
I finished my first year of substitute teaching, and Eric and I went to Florida for our 10 year anniversary.  Subbing was a wonderful experience, like unforgettable and huge learning curve.  Our 10 year trip was a nice break in the action, and a fun getaway.  When we returned it was the last week of school for Miss Molly and Miss Lucy.  Lucy finished her first year of preschool, and was relieved to have survived!  Molly graduated from the 2nd grade and had a fun last week at school.  I was able to be at a lot of different last week of school activities, which I love.  Molly had a fabulous teacher for second grade, one we miss terribly!  She is an awesome, loving, caring, generous lady who deserves so many accolades, yet hardly acknowledges how amazing she truly is.

June-
I started grad school this month.  My intent was to obtain my teaching license in K-3, and possibly a reading endorsement.  I enrolled in 6 classes.  The first class started in June, and lasted 4 weeks.  I loved it!  I loved getting back into school.  Sure the papers and the whole do 16 weeks of work in 4 was incredibly hard, but it was exhilarating, too.

June was also the month Eric's dad was officially diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.  He had been misdiagnosed for a couple months before, we were told he had bronchitis that wouldn't go away.  Not true.  By the time the diagnosis had come the cancer had spread to his lungs, throat, shoulder, brain, and lymph-nodes.  We were looking at time, not recovery.  He started radiation right away.  This diagnosis flipped our world upside down.

June was also spent at the pool.  We got a membership to a local pool for the first time ever.  The girls enjoyed it a lot!  So in between papers and studying we tried to spend as much time as the weather would allow at the pool.

July-
School work intensified, I was not enrolled in 5 classes in 4 weeks.  This was the most stressful time of my life.  I was in 2 online classes, and 3 classes in the actual classroom.  I went to school Mon/Wed nights from 4-9, and Tues/Thurs from 11am-9pm.  It was brutal.  I have never studied harder, worked harder, or lost as much sleep as I did taking these classes.  At times I was the oldest in my classes, and probably the furthest from being in school.  But when it was all said and done I felt so proud of myself.  I got all A's, made the dean's list, only to...continued in August.  

The girls spent 2 weeks at my mom's house during July.  It was the perfect timing, too.  I could not have imagined being in the thick of work trying to entertain them and not feel guilty for working on the computer for hours on end.  My father-in-law still was battling cancer.  He started chemotherapy in July, and almost died from it.

August-
I wanted to soak up as much of August as possible because I was enrolled in 6 more classes plus observation for the fall semester.  To be honest I was really stressed about making it all work, and feeling like I was pushing the timeline too quick, but kept trying to get over it.  We went to the pool, visited my FIL as much as possible, and then one day I got a call out of the blue offering me a position as an elementary school counselor.  I was so blown away and shocked.  I didn't even know this position was available, let alone I never applied for it.  I do not have a school license, just a clinical license.  So I am not officially "qualified."  I was hesitant at first because I was working so hard at becoming a teacher and didn't want to say goodbye to all my efforts over the summer.  I came in to interview on a Monday morning, like 2 weeks before school started.  I was offered the position on Tuesday morning.  So I accepted.  Eric and I felt like God swung this door wide open for a reason.  I don't know what the reason exactly is, but I figured I might as well walk through it and experience everything I can working with preschoolers-6th graders.  My school is outside the town we live in, it's considered a county school, and it's smaller than our city school.  I love it, and I love the people I work with.  The kids are amazing, and I seriously could not be happier.  I enjoy coming to work everyday and it honestly does not feel like work.  I still counsel kids, but also because it is a smaller setting, I teach guidance daily in the classroom.  So I still get my teacher fix.  It's like the best of both worlds.  It's been one of the biggest blessings ever in my life.

August was a downhill month for my FIL.  The day I interviewed at the school we got the call that he was going to pass away that night.  We all gathered and prayed, cried, and prayed some more.  I spent the night with my mother-in-law at the hospital.  I held my FIL's hand and cried.  He didn't pass that night, he actually got better for a couple of days.  The emotional roller coaster of the situation was starting to wear us all down.  He wanted to continue with chemo, which each time he would get another around of it, he would end up in ICU.  We eventually opted for no more chemo.

Molly started 3rd grade, and Lucy started a pre-k program that is affiliated with our school district.  Both girls love school, and have matured a lot in a little bit of time.  I start as a full time school counselor and think what have I gotten myself into, ha!

Sept-
We are in the full swing of morning routines and after school pick ups.  In order for me to take this position we needed to find childcare ASAP.  Eric's dad was supposed to watch Lucy this school year, and I would pick Molly up after school each day.  Well plans have changed.  We found a wonderful babysitter for Lucy whose daughter is in Lucy's class at school, and Molly got into our after school program even though there was a wait list.  Everything fell into place in a matter of days, so we felt like this was another affirmation that taking the job was the right thing to do.

Molly was elected into student council.  Like a good politician's family we waffled if she should run or not.  With her anxiety we were nervous if she didn't win, what the fall out would be.  She wrote a speech and practiced it, and was confident of running and winning.  Thankfully she did win, and she takes her position very seriously!  She has loved being a part of something bigger, and feeling like she has a part to play.  It's been great seeing her become more responsible and active at school.

Lucy and Molly both played soccer each week, that was until Molly fell and broke her arm.  She did that the first week of school.  Molly fell off the monkey bars, and snap goes the wrist.  That was a first for us.  And a first for me.  I was the parent that didn't go to the hospital, Eric handled it all.  I was unable to be reached at school, so by the time I got the message Eric and Molly were already getting x-rays and it was all taken care of.  That was a hard day for me.  I am used to being the one who is always there, and I wasn't that day.  Eric is more than capable of doing it, it was just a hard mom moment for me.

Lucy played a full season of soccer and loved every minute of it.  She was actually way better than we thought she would be.  Lucy has a killer instinct in her.  Molly was able to play in the last tournament of the season, which was fun.  Our team came in 2nd place, we were so close to 1st!!

Oct-
Lots of the same...school, school, school, church...

Our church celebrated our first year of life!  It was awesome.  Most new churches do not make it a year, so the fact that we did is reason to celebrate.  A lot has happened in a year.  Our year celebration was bittersweet because Eric's dad passed away a couple days before it.  Celebrating was hard because his dad was so stinking proud of our church, even when he couldn't stand anymore, he still greeted people from a wheelchair at the door.

Losing Eric's dad has been incredibly hard.  Incredibly hard.  He was an amazing man that seriously was the definition of humble and generous.  So many people came to the visitation and funeral.  It was awesome to see how many people he had impacted his short 67 years on earth.  Eric performed the funeral and did an incredible job.  His dad left a strong legacy and I pray people come to know Jesus because of him.  We are still grieving and will be for a long time.  Lucy has had a difficult time with not seeing my FIL daily.  They were pals, buddies, and did a lot together.  I am so glad they had a whole year together that she remembers.  I am so glad we lived with them for 9 months, and I spent every day with him during that time.  And I am so glad we were all together at the end.  The most important things in my FIL's life were God and his family.  I hope we make him proud by sticking together.  Man I miss him so much.

I am cashed for now.  I just gave you all very broad details, ha!!  I will catch up with November soon, and then December.

         

Friday, April 24, 2015

My Last Day of Middle School

Today is my last day at the middle school I am subbing at.  I have been here almost 3 months!  Eric asked me last night if I would be sad leaving today.  Honestly, part of me is and part of me isn't.  The thing about subbing is it's not your "real job."  It's someone else's office or classroom, they aren't your kids, you follow someone else's plans, etc.  Being a substitute is great because of the flexibility and not having to worry about writing lesson plans, but it's also hard because it's so temporary.  At least for me this is how it feels.

I have come to know a lot of kids at the middle school, and I know I will often wonder how they are doing.  I have bonded with one kid in particular who just experienced a significant loss in his life. Talking with him takes me back to my 14 year old self when my brother just died.  I will miss him and our chats.  And I will always wonder if a certain visitor to my office will graduate high school or not.

As for 6th grade girl drama, I will not miss that, ha!  Actually, all the drama makes me sad because at some point in their life they have been failed big time by someone who cared about them.  A lot of the drama comes from hurt and anger, and not knowing how to deal with those emotions.

Working in a middle school whether you are a full time staff member or substitute takes a lot out of you.  I think middle school is tough.  Teachers deal with a lot, and so do students.  It's a huge transition for everyone.  You plant a lot of seeds in middle school and you never know what type of fruit you will produce.

I am already booked to sub next week, too.  There goes my dream of some time off!  But next week I am back with elementary students, which is more my cup of tea.

Subbing at the middle school level has been a huge blessing, learning experience, and great opportunity for me.  I am incredibly thankful for my time here, and also I am excited to sleep in a little later, too.  Middle school starts so early!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April Goals

Last month I posted about my goals for March.  While I would love to tell you I checked every single one off the list, I would be a liar.  But here's what setting goals did for me-I actually felt more motivated and challenged through the month.  I felt more purposeful and planned, too.  So although, I kinda blew it in March, I am going for it again in April, well what's left of it at least!

Recap of March Goals:

1. Teaching Licensure Program Enrollment- I am accepted, enrolled, and registered for classes this summer and fall.

2. Financial Aid- Everything is filled out and turned in.

3. Run 50 miles this month- This one is laughable!  I think I might have ran 15 miles...I will say I hurt my ankle wrestling with the kids, so it's been swollen and sore, so I really haven't pushed it too much.  But I do go to 3 workout classes at the Y each week.  So I have been doing that.

4. Have 2 new couples/families over for dinner- This one was not for the lack of trying, darn schedules!  But we were able to reconnect with old friends and have dinner with them.  We are still trying this month to have new people over or go out with new friends.

5. Meal Plan- We have done pretty well, I would say 75% success rate.  

6. Date my kids- I accomplished this one.  Each girl got special time with me, and we had lots of fun!

7. Catch up on my Bible reading plan- Yes, I finished!  It was a lot, and it was hard work, but I completed it and earned my little badge on the YouVersion app. 

Now onto some goals for April...

1. Eat clean (80/20) and workout 4-5 days a week- my 3 workout classes I take at the Y are great, although I take 2 in one day...so I need to up my game with the other days.

2. Read 2 books-
Up At Night by Pete Wilson- I am on the launch team for this book
The Survival Guide for Parents of Gifted Kids by Sally Yahnke Walker

3. Go one a date with my husband- we are really bad at this, and we are going to Florida for a week in May for our 10 year anniversary, but I would love to go on a date with him before that.

4. Print pictures off from Lucy's birthday- I am down right awful at printing pictures.  For Lucy's birthday we had a photo booth with Anna and Elsa, and I told the parents I would get them copies of the pictures I took, umm that was in December.  I need to do this!

I think that about does it for April.  I am taking 6 classes this summer for my teaching certificate/masters in education program.  So I am really trying to simplify life and enjoy it now, because come June 1st, whoa watch out.  


Friday, March 27, 2015

Parenting is Tough, but Worth It

It's Friday, Friday, Friday...let that song run through your head.  I know, now it's stuck.

Today is the last school day before spring break, all teachers, staff, and parents say AMEN.  Even if you don't have big plans for break I think we all can agree the break from routine and signing assignment books is a welcomed one.  Our weather has been awful.  We get rain, clouds, snow, more rain, more snow, more clouds...so spring break feels like it has taken forever to finally arrive.  And our forecast for break is a cold one, but at least we can stay indoors and have a movie marathon or something.

Have you been following the Today Show and all their parenting blogs, on air spots, and what nots?  I admittedly have not read most of the articles, okay, okay, I only read Jen Hatmaker's posts for the website.  It's really got me thinking.  Parenting is so hard, and so tiring, and so fill in the blank.  And yet parenting is worth it, and so rewarding, and fulfilling.  Last night we were out with friends eating dinner and we brought the girls, and I am not going to lie, there were numerous times throughout dinner I thought to myself; "why didn't we get a sitter?!"  I know I am not alone.  And even though it was painful for me to watch them with their less than stellar manners, I am sure our friends were clueless that our kids were breaking every rule and warning I gave them in the car and on the way into the restaurant.

Parenting is sacred work.  It really is.  My faith has had to grow along with my parenting.  There are some days I literally pray to God, please shut their mouths, please wash a sense of drowsiness over them, dear Lord, I can not be the nice mom anymore!  Then there are times when they don't realize I am watching them and I thank God for their kind hearts, their ability to include others and share.  A huge sense of gratitude floods my heart, then one of my kids will look over and say; "Are you crying?  Why are you crying?"

Sometimes when I go to bed exhausted at night because Molly has had another round of anxiety overcome her, or Lucy has decided she is going to exert her strong will until she is blue in the face, I wonder what my kids will remember.  Will they remember the times we scrapped plans and went and did something fun, or will they remember me for constantly nit-picking their messes, or loosing my cool every Sunday morning before church.  Will they know I would walk all over the world for them, or lay down my life for them.

 Source 

I pray my kids look back some day and think wow, we were loved really well.  Eric and I try our best, we fail a lot, a lot.  We are learning every single day what a parent is, how a parent acts, and what parents do.  I wish I had some magical book or potion to make life all better, to take away the hurts I unintentionally cause my kids, or my husband.  But I don't.

What I do have is each new day to show love to my kids and husband, and to let them know through my words and actions how much they mean to me.  How truly grateful I am for them.

I often have to remind myself that God gave me Molly and Lucy for a reason, I was made to be their mom, I am the one for the job.  It's through that great faith in me, I place great faith in God to help me raise these girls.

I used to be the perfect parent, before I had kids, I knew exactly what I would do in every situation that arose, and how my kids were not going to act like those kids, and my kids would do this and not that.  Wasn't I cute at one time?  Oh my...now I have the loud kids, the tough and rumble kids, the not always polite kids, those kids.  But those kids I have also love with an intensity like no other, and are loyal, kind, and have good hearts.  And those are the best kids to have.  


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Kindness

Today as I was getting ready to head to the middle school I am subbing at I thought "you can't teach kindness, it comes from the heart."  

I have been really challenged the last couple of weeks with being kind.  More specifically what does kindness look like, when is it being nice vs being kind?  Working with 6th, 7th, and 8th graders everyday I see what kindness does not look like, and rarely see what it does look like.

The funny thing about kindness is it truly does not matter your background, your income, your living standards, your education, your {fill in the blank}.  Kindness transcends all of that.  But it can't be taught, it's felt with the heart.


I am sure you are wondering how you can't teach kindness?  And I thought that too, but day in and day out I see examples of kids not being kind to others and I am sure their parents thought somewhere along the line they taught them how to be kind.

Kindness is a choice.

You have to choose to be kind.  Kindness happens when there's nothing in it for you.  You show kindness no matter what the outcome is.  Niceness is often mistaken for kindness.  Being nice comes naturally, being kind is hard work.  Niceness is politeness, and kindness is loving, and sympathetic.


There are a lot of kids who are kind, you just don't hear it or see it, because they aren't concerned with how the outcome of a situation will effect them.  They show kindness because there's something inside of them that guides them into action.  And that's a gift.

We have plenty of nice kids out there, which the world needs niceness.  But we have fewer kind kids wandering around because what does kind get you- not a lot in the sense of the world and popularity.  But what kindness leaves you with is an all-fulfilling desire to always be kinder.  

 


Monday, March 16, 2015

Talking With Roger

On Saturday night Eric and I spoke to 12 couples about love and marriage.  It was originally scheduled for Valentine's Day, but due to bad weather it was postponed to Saturday night.  The place we had the banquet at was in this back room of what appeared to be a run down Dairy Queen.  We were surrounded by white lattice, fake plants, decorations from every holiday you could imagine.  It felt like we stepped back in time, way back in time.

The majority of the couples there were well into their 70's.  They all had been married for 40 plus years.  Eric and I sat at the head table along with the pastor of their church and his wife.  I sat on the end and across from this gentleman named, Roger.

Roger began the night by asking me lots of questions, the getting to know you type, and then Roger filled me in on his life.  He was married for a couple of years and his wife unexpectedly passed away leaving him with a 3 month old baby.  He had a nanny for the baby but knew he needed and desired another wife.  He had the church pray for him and then he told me "I had to tell them to stop praying because I had 21 girlfriends."  I about died.  Roger worked at the same place for 45 years.  He loved working there, I could tell by the tears in his eyes when he recalled countless stories that happened over those 45 years.  The kind people at that place still treat him very nicely and I am sure they are thankful for his dedication to their business.

Roger also told me about his health issues, past and current.  He has a 16 year old girls heart in his chest.  This story was difficult for Roger to tell me.  You can tell he wrestles with the guilt of that 16 year olds heart pumping in his 78 year old chest.  But with each pump he is doing his best to live life to the fullest and make that girl proud.

Dialysis happens 4 times a week.  Roger now has Wednesday's off, and he told me how much that frees up his schedule to go out and meet with people.  Roger loves to talk, there is no doubt about that, but he mostly loves to share Jesus with all the people he talks to.  He used to go to truck stops and drink coffee with truckers and travelers and witness to them.  Roger would plaster tracks and Christian literature all over truck stops and road side rests.  That was his ministry, that was his calling, and although life and health has slowed his down, he still considers it his calling.

Roger loves to garden- vegetables, fruit, and flowers.  He takes flowers with him to the hospital when we receives his dialysis treatments.  He hands out flowers to chemo patients, nurses, and other family members sitting in the waiting room.

And don't get him started on collecting antiques, because he will talk your ear off.

Despite everything Roger has been through he would always end his sentences or stories with "God is so good."  "I am amazed God used somebody like me."  "God is faithful."  "I don't know why this was/is my path in life, but I am so glad God is walking it with me."

Roger likened himself to Job during the night, telling of his wife passing away, his cattle all keeling over in the pasture, and just plain wanting to give up.  But through God, with God, and always because of God, Roger made it through.  And he is still making it through.

I feel like Roger could have been my grandfather, we just clicked and bonded over our cubed steak and mashed potatoes.  I enjoyed talking to him so much, and hopefully I can go visit him on his farm.  He was a true definition of a faithfilled person, and I learned so much about joy and hope from him on Saturday night.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Enjoying the Ride


Today I wrote in my journal that I needed to "just keep calm and enjoy the ride."  What ride you ask...well life, but more specifically this ride that has me going back to school.  In the words of my wise father "what, 2 degrees aren't enough?"  I guess not.

I am embarking on going back to school to become an elementary teacher.  I have always wanted to be a teacher, like always.  From playing school, to decorating fake bulletin boards, to geeking out over school supplies every year, to now.  The desire to teach and be with kids has never left me.  So why didn't I just go to school to be a teacher when I graduated high school- great question.   At the time counseling seemed more appealing?  I honestly do not know this answer.  I do not regret counseling at all, I met awesome people through the program in college, and all my counseling experience over the last 6 plus years leaves me smiling, shaking my head at times, but truly smiling.

I have lots of fears going back to school.  Like a lot.  What will happen to our family time, am I too old (I know 31 isn't that old), how much work will it be, financially (oh my word this causes me anxiety), and what if I mess up, what if it's harder than I thought.  The list goes on and on.

But I am also excited to go back to school.  New opportunities, new chances to learn, new people to meet, new experiences, and ultimately I want my girls to know you are never too old to achieve a dream.  I can go on and still have a good 30 years of teaching once I am finished with school.

Often times in life I just want to hurry it up.  I want to get from point A to point B and not stop to smell the flowers along the way.  If Jesus' only reason to come to earth to die for us was truly the only reason for his existence why would he spend 33 years meeting and discipling people.  Wouldn't he just want to get it over with?  People say all the time it's not about the destination, it's about the journey.  And for this organized Type A personality the journey is often the hardest.  While journeying you are committing yourself to possibly heartbreaks, disappointments, frustrations, feeling lonely, wanting to quit.  Whereas if you just hurry it up and get there already you miss out on healing, joy, peace, excitement, and new experiences.

Trust me, I usually just want to get there already, but right now I am forcing myself to enjoy the ride.  I have to force myself to slow down, and trust that God has me on the path that he wants me to be on.  I have to fully rely on him because if not I would control every single bend and fold in the path. Right now my hands are tied on moving any further in the program.  We are waiting on one last piece of paper to arrive and nothing can happen until that gets in the hands of the right people.  And trust me, it is killing me to wait!  But I am also learning in His time, not mine, and it's hard.

The journey can be long and draining, yet so rewarding and fruitful.
    
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6