Three Things Thursday: I’m No Quitter Edition

You thought I was done, didn’t you? All two of you, that is, who noticed I started my Three Things Thursday posts, made it just two weeks, then… nothing. Well, you were wrong. Here it is, 3 weeks (and a day) later, and I’m posting my third ever Three Things Thursday. Why? Partly because I started this post yesterday – a Thursday – but I got totally and completely entranced by watching “The Voice” on-demand for the first time (Um, LOVE!) By the time it was over, I had fallen asleep before finishing this. But also? Because I’m no quitter.

Mostly.

Just as long as you don’t count the time I was going to blog every day for 40 consecutive days and I only made it 8. And also, they weren’t even consecutive. Oops.

Or the time I was going to teach myself how to play guitar, and my dear sweet supportive husband bought me all sorts of guitar type things, like new soft strings (because I may have quit one other time when my fingers hurt too bad), a tuner doohicky thing, (yes, I think that’s the technical name), and several other inspiring guitar paraphernalia that turned out to be not quite as inspiring as we had hoped. (To be fair, I did learn how to play two chords. That I have since forgotten. Just WHATEVER.)

Then there was the time when I was 19 that my aunt and uncle announced they were going to have a baby, and they planned a Peanuts Gang themed nursery. I thought 9 months was plenty of time to cross-stitch 12 scenes of Charlie Brown and Snoopy for a home-made calendar as a baby gift. And then another 4 or 5 years to finish it off (before she was old enough to realize I hadn’t earlier), since I didn’t make the 9 month deadline. Except that now my baby cousin is 16, and I still have the 12 nearly finished cross stitch pictures in a box somewhere in the garage. And disappointingly, she no longer has The Peanuts Gang decor. Not only that, but if you were to visit her today in her teenage room, you would find nary a cross-stitched picture of any kind. Lame.

So maybe I’m a little bit of a quitter.

Except that is not what this post is about. No, this edition of Three Things Thursday is entitled “I’m No Quitter!” And I’m not. At least not when it comes to these 3 things…

1. I will not, I repeat, NOT quit going the speed limit when you’re on my tail. Sure, I may speed when you’re a safe distance behind me, or when I’m running late. Again. But start driving a foot behind my bumper? You might as well be a cop. Because I am suddenly law-abiding Lucy. And probably also, my windshield will be very dirty and require some crazy amounts of washing. This may cause me to slow down just a bit until I take care of all that window gunk. Sorry if that means you get a little wet, too.

2. This one is a bit more serious (although, I am completely dead-serious about that last one.) I will not give up on you, kid. You know who you are. In class, you’re the one who is frustratingly defiant. Or starved for attention. Or sneaky, or outright lies, or behaves in a way that makes me and everyone else want to scream. You are the one who thinks you’re stupid and has given up on yourself. I want you to know, I haven’t. I won’t. And while some might frown on me telling you this at school, they can’t stop me from actually doing it: I pray for you. At home, at school, sometimes in the middle of our toughest battle. I pray that your heart will soften, that you’ll learn from your mistakes and grow. When you’ve dealt with more in your short 8 years than anyone should have to experience in a lifetime, I pray you’ll find safety and comfort at school, and that somehow you’ll see Jesus in all of it. When you’re lonely, I pray you’ll find true friend. When you’re angry and hurt, I pray you’ll find healing and Hope. When you’re insecure, I pray you’ll see your worth and that someday you’ll know that you are a child of God, made in His image. The truth is, I pray for all of you. Before you enter my class on our first day, and many times throughout the year. I pray my prayers over you are not your first, nor will they be your last. And when I sometimes wonder if I’m meant to still teach or if God has another plan for me, I will remind myself that this is where He has me now, and so I will do what I can. And that is to pray. And I’m no quitter.

#3. Sometimes, this world seems to be falling apart. Beheadings, children’s innocence being stripped away, cancer, ebola and other horrific illness, poverty, hate.

Hopelessness.

Sometimes, you have to look hard to find the good.

On 9/11, Annalise asked me why people would attack our country and try to kill people. Then she wanted to know why other people would make and sell things that are meant to harm others, because, “Money isn’t important, Mom. People are. People matter, but money doesn’t matter at all! Why would they do that?

We had a good talk that day, about why our hearts need to be filled with Love. God commands us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and then to love our neighbors as ourselves. We talked about that when our hearts are not filled with love, it leaves room inside them to be filled with something else. Greed. Selfishness. Hate. It’s because of this that I know I can’t quit #3: I will seek Your face and pray I am filled with Love for You.

There is an American man, Saeed Abedini, who has been imprisoned for 2 years because he will not renounce his love for Jesus. Beaten, malnourished, kept away from his wife and two young kids. FOR TWO YEARS. Yet, his faith and his love for Jesus has grown stronger. From his vantage point in that prison cell, I wonder if there is anything good in this world visible to him?

Looking for the good in this world isn’t enough. We have to look for the God who made this world.

Saeed sits beaten and bruised in that prison cell, and he hasn’t quit. And so I won’t quit. I can’t quit… seeking His face. Knowing his heart.

Filling my heart with His Love so there is room for nothing else.

Three Things Thursday: Back to School Edition

I’m tired. Exhausted, actually. Who knew 3 days of work (2 and 1/2 actually) could be so draining? (I’d type those last two words in all caps for further emphasis, but the truth is, I’m so tired I don’t even have the energy to yell.) This going to work business is for the birds.

But here I am. Typing my Three Things Thursday. Because you know what? I made some “New (School) Year Resolutions,” one of which is “write more, at least once a week” And I’m no quitter!

At least not after the first week.

So, to my list. Since today was just the second day of school, it seemed fitting to make this edition about back to school. It’s just going to have to be fast, because I already fell asleep once while typing this, resulting in a massive paragraph of zzzs in the middle of a sentence. (See what I did there?)
(It was actually a bunch of os, but zzzs are much more fitting.)

3 Reasons I like heading back to school*

1. Getting to be in the same school as my girl. How fun is that? (Plus, it makes my Momma’s heart break just a little less each day when I have to send her off to the big bad world.) I can check in on her at lunch, wink at her in the halls, and send her our family’s secret “I love you” signal during assemblies.  But most importantly, we can dress up in matching clothes together. Because that is obviously what really matters:

IMG_3372This adorable first grader was nervous on the way out the door for her first day. She paused at the door, shook her arms to loosen up, and said to no one in particular, “This day is gonna be FUN! I can FEEL it! I can feel it in my BONES!” Love her to bits.

2. Getting to see super-fun co-workers. Like, say, THIS girl who makes me laugh every day:

IMG_3379By the way, please notice the ridiculously awesome desks that my job-share partner (another super fun co-worker who is not pictured) and I painted to make into WHITE BOARDS. (<— I suddenly have the energy to yell. It’s THAT exciting.) DESKS? That are also WHITE BOARDS? Why yes, we did. They’re the greatest. I love them. We are genius. Who needs pinterest when you have US??? Next up? A WHITE BOARD DOOR. For very important messages to students as they enter. Just like a drive-up coffee shop. (This genius idea courtesy of yet another super-fun co-worker/Christmas Lights Decorator Extraordinaire.) (Also, just to be clear, there are many more super-fun co-workers I love seeing – or miss from my former school – but didn’t mention.)

3. Students. Former ones with big smiles coming back to say hello and give big hugs. New ones who are eager to learn, be a “grown up third grader,” and say over-the-top cute things like, “I feel blessed that I have not just ONE great teacher, but TWO great teachers.” Yes, I know she may be totally kissing up in the hopes I will award her the special privilege of sharpening pencils, but just whatever. MELT!

*Disclaimer about these 3 reasons I like heading back to school. While they are all good and wonderful and nice, we all know the real reason I love going back to school. I’m quite convinced it’s the reason most teachers go into teaching in the first place. No, not shaping young minds or being a positive influence for future generations that will one day lead our great nation. The real reason was best described by my enthusiastic – if not dramatic – young daughter who, in the excitement of talking about heading back to school and showing her dad everything we had purchased after a day of shopping prep, threw herself backwards onto the couch, arms spread out to her sides, huge grin on her face, sighed and said, “Ahhhhh….. I just LOVE school supplies!”
Ah, yes. There it is, folks. Walking into stores like Storables and Office Depot or in the back-to-school section of Target is the reason I got into this job. We teachers love a new pack of multi-colored flare pens or white board markers like fruit flies love my vinegar traps. We just can’t help ourselves. And don’t even get me started on the aisles of colored and many-shaped post-its. It gets me giddy just thinking about it.

 

Three Things Thursday: End of Summer Edition

Welcome to the first edition of “Three Things Thursday.” I’m hoping it won’t also be the last, but there are no guarantees. We will have to see what next Thursday holds. (I’m sure you are waiting with bated breath. Just not bated for too long, as next Thursday is also the second day of school, and I will likely have no more words to use – nor the energy to use them – by the time I sit down at night.)

Our summer was chalk-full of wonderful memories. The kids and I made our Summer Bucket List mid-June, and we checked off almost everything. (We plan on checking off a few more things this weekend.) Annalise’s list items that likely won’t happen over the Labor Day weekend include: “go to disnewruld. go to idoneshu. nooyouc.” (Translation on the last 2: Indonesia, New York.)

What can I say? The girl dreams big.

And also? Her writing. It’s seriously too much, you guys. It has me in hysterics all the time. I may have to do a Three Things Thursday: Leesie’s Letters Edition. I die, I love it so much. I considered having her drop out of school just so I can see her write like this forever. But somehow, “hicing on man bacr” and “watr fat” just don’t seem quite as funny when you’re 16.

But back to the three things. The following pictures from summer are not some of the big things we did, but they are funny little memories that make me smile when I think of them. And come to think of it, each picture represents a story about a different member of my family. So maybe this should be called: Three Things Thursday: Uneventful Summer Events, Why My Family Members Keep Me Smiling. Although, that seems a bit long, so I’ll just stick with the original title.

1. photo(99)

What’s that you ask? That, folks, is gum on clothing. Things like this happen with kids. At least I assume it does. Although, it had actually never happened with my kids prior to this lovely mess. But the unique part about this picture is that the gum was not sat in or leaned against. No, this gum had some real talent. When it fell out of my child’s mouth, it didn’t land on her skirt as we sat in the car heading to Eugene, Oregon. This special gum fell up her skirt. Yes, up. Then it was immediately squished by the legs that were residing in said skirt. As we walked into the restaurant we pulled up to minutes later, my talented child with acrobatic gum climbed out and walked gingerly to the restroom where she discovered that her anti-gravity gum had multiplied, divided and conquered, sticking her skirt to her shorts, shorts to undies, and adhering all of it to her legs. I had to laugh, because of all the people in all the world in all of the history of ever, if I had to pick one girl this would happen to, it would be my girl. She is a beautiful mess, and it makes me smile. And also, she probably actually takes after her mother in this area. It is through no fault of her own that she falls into ginormous fire pits (thankfully, not with fires going) as though they suddenly arose out of the ground where there was once nothing. (This happened while we were having our “watr fat” – or water fight – in grandma’s back yard.) I have been known to walk directly into a ginormous planter pot that measured 3 feet tall and 3 feet in diameter. I’m still not sure how it got moved into my path so quickly.

 

2. In August, we celebrated our girls’ 8-year-birthdays by bringing flowers to their spot. As we pulled up, Jacob grabbed the flowers and shouted, “I’ll carry these!” He hopped out of the car with enthusiasm and ran to a marker where he announced, “This looks like a good spot! I’ll leave them HERE!” It made me giggle, seeing him standing proudly on Tillie E. Cue’s headstone, ready to give her the flowers meant for his sisters. photo(100)His other sister, a bit annoyed with his ignorance, quickly informed me, “MOM! Jacob is standing on someone else’s GRADE!” These two. I love them to bits. photo(101)I am so thankful they are mine. And when we got home, they ran to the door and stood there like this, waiting for me to walk up. photo(102)How can that not make a mama smile?

3. Let’s see, who is left in my family? Oh yes, my dear husband. What a good Daddy and husband he is. He carries the kids to bed when they’re tired or already asleep, shares his last bite of a treat, and gets an armband at the fair so I don’t have to go on any rides and the kids don’t have to ride alone. photo(104)That is true sacrificial love, people. Unlike for our 13 year-old-selves, fair rides are not either of our favorite thing. But here he is, taking one for the team. And because the kids are just a little bit more grown up this year, we decided we’d head over to the big rides to start. It was not quite time for them to open, so we were first in line at the Yo-Yo. (If you’re not familiar with the Yo-Yo, picture a giant swing going around a circle. Like a carousel, only faster, higher, and you’re riding a swing instead of a horse. That’s it.)

The kids seemed a little apprehensive about the ride, and since it hadn’t opened for the day, they weren’t able to see how tame it really was. Matt, good dad that he is, offered to ride once so they could witness for themselves that it was not too scary or fast. They agreed. He climbed on, with just a few other kids riding far away from him. The swing was lifted into the air and began its circular path. Matt had passed us just twice when the kids looked at me and said, “Can we go on that maze over there?” I agreed, because it only took a few rotations for them to see what the ride was about. No use standing here for the last 45 seconds watching the swings follow the same path.

Only the ride didn’t last another 45 seconds. Maybe it was because there was no one in line waiting to get on. Or maybe the guy operating the ride thought it would be funny, since there was a big dude sitting up on the Yo-Yo all by his lonesome. But whatever the reason, that ride continued for another 8 minutes. EIGHT MINUTES OF GOING IN CIRCLES. The kids were done watching Matt after 15 seconds. He continued riding without them nearby for another 7 minutes and 45 seconds.

At one point, Matt considered taking off his shoe and hucking it at the (I’m sure very amused) carny.

At another point, a friend walked towards the ride and didn’t see me. As she looked up, I saw her say with confusion, “Isn’t that Holly’s husband up there?” Why yes. Yes, it is. My husband likes to be the first in line to go on carnival rides, he loves it so much. He goes all by himself, because they are THAT fun.

8 minutes later, when he finally got off the spinning wheel of death and the children had gone through the maze approximately 3,127 times, Annalise declared that she would like to go on the Yo-Yo after all. Phew. At least the long ride wasn’t in vain. Except Jacob had determined that it was actually too high for him. And then Annalise decided that, while it looked super fun, it would be too scary to go on alone.

And so that, ladies and gentlemen, is why my husband got back on the Yo-Yo after 8 minutes of nausea for yet another round of torment. Because if his little girl looked up at him and asked for a real live unicorn, he would probably buy a horse and adhere a giant party hat to its face. He is that dedicated. Or suckered. Take your pick.

Deja vu all over again

Here we are again at the end of another glorious summer.

I can tell this is true, not just because of the date on the calendar (of which I stopped looking at long ago, so I actually have no idea what the date is), but also because of my full heart from all the summer memories.

That and all the rotting vegetables in the kitchen. There is a cabbage turning black in the fridge next to a couple mushy cucumbers. And just yesterday, Jacob pointed to the now-speckled spaghetti squash I purchased I don’t even know when and said, “Mom! We’d better eat your spaghetti squash soon, because it’s starting to turn into a cantaloupe!”

Please tell me I’m not the only one who feeds my children watermelon and Otter Pops for dinner more nights than I’d care to admit at the end of the summer. Because who really wants to eat spaghetti squash and cooked peppers when they could have fresh peaches followed by a trip to Edaleens? And probably a bowl of cereal later, because you’ll now be hungry before bed.

Tonight’s meal was an improvement on the end-of-summer norm. Jacob had a tortilla, a peach, and a handful of salty almonds while hopping around in the kitchen. He likely also ate several fruit flies that kept swarming his peach, but we won’t tell him that. The boy needs protein where he can get it. And any extra fruit flies have since been taken care of. (Insert evil cackle.)

Annalise had a Mexican Pile. (Let me clarify, as this meal name could possibly bring to mind several different pictures, none of which would be appetizing. Or edible. Or even really appropriate. The “Mexican Pile” was what she named an accidental dinner I made the other night. No, I didn’t accidentally make dinner. Although at the end of August, any prepared meal is likely the result of some sort of strange phenomenon – accident or otherwise. It’s just that the meal I made didn’t work out as planned and turned into something else. A surprise. I had planned an ambitious meal of pork tacos with homemade pico-de-gallo and a side of Mexican rice and black beans. The tortillas fell apart, dropping the shredded pork and other taco fillings on to the plate. We decided to share the meal sans tortillas, and we just slopped it all together in one big pile with some sprinkled cheese on top. She christened the meal a “Mexican Pile” and has asked for it several times since. Tonight while chowing away on her (leftover reheated) pile, she said, “Mommy, I think I could eat all the Mexican Piles in all the whole world, and none of them would be as good as yours. I LOVE your piles.” My middle school brain and I don’t know how to respond to such, ahem, compliments. So I just smile through my stifled giggles and move on.)

Still, you’ll notice our end-of-summer improved dinner was less than ideal and contained almost no produce. (Unless you count the fabulous homemade pico-de-gallo, if I do say so myself.) Plus, it was served at 8:45 PM. And to tell you the truth, at the end of summer, I really don’t even care any more. Food enters mouth. Stomach is filled. Mouths are not complaining.

This is the kind of high-bar we set around here once August nears its end.

But it all is just further evidence to this sad truth:  Next week, I’ll be going back to work. And Jacob will be back at the babysitter’s. And Annalise will be back to school.

Which means it’s high time I head on over to the grocery store and invest in a cart load of tissue and chocolate to get me through all the tears that will soon flood.

(And while I’m there, I should probably purchase a vegetable or two.)

Remember this post? About the first days of Kindergarten? A.K.A. The Days that Slowly Ripped My Heart Into a Million Tiny Shreds?

It’s all about to happen all over again. And I can already feel my stomach in knots and the lump in my throat that is a signal for the floodgates of emotion and panic about my children growing up too quickly and guilt about not savoring every moment of summer wonder with them.

The truth is, when you’re spending every waking moment with these little peeps, sometimes you forget that – although your ears need a break for JUST ONE MINUTE FOR GOODNESS SAKE – soon there will be minutes upon minutes upon hours and days that you’ll wish you and your ears had them back for every waking moment again.

Or at least for some of the waking moments.

Because I mean, let’s be real here. A few minutes hours of couple time, reading, a quiet walk, OR GOING TO THE BATHROOM IN PEACE is always nice. So no, you don’t want them around every waking minute. Just more waking minutes than you seem to get them once school starts again.

Alas, wishing they would stay little and we’d stay home together is not only futile, but it robs me of the joy of watching them grow into exactly who God wants them to be.

Or at least that’s what I’m trying to tell myself tonight as I do my best to stifle that massive throat lump and the ugly cry that will surely follow.

Tonight while on a walk, Annalise picked up a dandelion fluff and said, “I should make a wish and blow this all away. It’s supposed to make your wish come true, you know. Only I know that’s not true. But you know what, Mama?” She giggles, revealing the little patch of dimples on her right cheek. I love her so much, it hurts. “I COULD wish something that I know for SURE would come true. All I have to do is wish that a bunch more weeds will grow, and then I blow this away, and my wish will come true every place they land!”

Well now. There you go. If that isn’t just looking on the bright side while setting the bar about as low as it can go.

Or maybe it’s avoiding heartache by accepting (or even finding the joy?) in the inevitable.

Kinda like wishing your kids would keep growing – because you know they’re going to anyway.

Even if it fills your heart to overflowing while simultaneously ripping it into a million tiny shreds. In all of the history of ever, I don’t believe there has ever been a more beautiful and painful thing as being a parent.

And then next summer, it will continue. All those heart-filling memories and joy of seeing them become who God made them to be. Followed by the end of August reality of how they’re growing at a faster speed than you ever imagined and now you have to let them go once again.

And it will be deja vu all over again.

Give and Take

I have had the honor of assisting Matt at several weddings he’s photographed. Sometimes, these weddings are out of town. All the time, I’m not needed for as long as he is. This results in me spending anywhere from 1-4 hours alone in semi-dressy attire in a city where I know no one and have no home to go to. Which results in a trip to a coffee shop. And since I’m not used to sitting in quiet all by my lonesome, this quiet alone time – although glorious – can only last so long.

Which is why I’ve taken up shopping. What else is a girl to do?

If you’ve known me most of my life, you know that I have always disliked – no, completely loathed – shopping. But in these times where I have a need to fill up a few spare hours, I’ve discovered that I don’t hate it. I just like it better by myself. No kids. No waiting. No going to stores I’m not interested in. I can go where I want and look for what I want. Another pair of earrings and a long necklace? Don’t mind if I do.

It’s worked out nicely so far.

On the wedding day, Matt and I have an early breakfast together. I take him to the location and drop him off. I shop for a bit – likely for clothes for myself. I know, right? All mothers out there are in a bit of shock after reading that last sentence. Because how many of us ever get the chance to do that, and then ACTUALLY DO IT? ALONE, no less???

(Two years ago, it took me 3 trips to the mall with my two little humans to find a single bra, then I bought 3 dozen of them just so as to never have to experience that again. Ever.)

(Ok, maybe not 3 dozen, because who could ever afford that many bras? They are ridiculously expensive. And the worst kind of purchase – for something you already have and never wanted in the first place. It’s like spending money on a car tune up. You don’t really want it, and it hurts paying the bill. Things may seem just fine as they are, but without it, you may find yourself hanging out in an awkward situation. Car tune-ups and bras: they are necessities for avoiding bigger problems.)

Then I hit a coffee shop before joining Matt at the wedding location, my purchases safely stowed away in the car. Like I said, it’s worked out nicely so far.

Except that lately, I don’t go to as many weddings. Which means I don’t have this alone time where I get to shop for the things I desire enough to purchase, but not enough to drag my kids into the store with me to do so.

And then, I discovered Amazon.

Oh, I already knew it existed and had used it some. I just didn’t take full advantage of it until lately.

Matt has shot 16 weddings so far this year. I only helped him at 3. Which means during the other 13, I’ve spent some of the time he’s been gone ordering things on Amazon. Because seriously, you just have to click a few buttons, and the stuff comes right to your door. I don’t have to even get my purse out. Or shower. Or put on one of those aforementioned necessities if I don’t feel like it.

I may have already redecorated our entire bedroom due to Amazon purchases that occurred while he was away working very hard. Did you know they will ship king size headboards FOR FREE?

I may have bought myself a kayak. And technically, this wasn’t an Amazon purchase. It was a Craigslist one. Still online, but I did end up having to get dressed and go out of the house, a whole 3 blocks away. Sometimes, life is hard.

I may have purchased gifts for the kids, some which they already received, some which I’m stashing away for birthdays and Christmas. See how ahead I am? This online shopping is really going to benefit us in the long run.

My shopping-while-Matt-is-at-a-wedding frenzy hasn’t gone unnoticed by him. After all, we share a bank account. And an Amazon account. And an email account.

Which means he gets email notifications on his phone of Amazon purchases while he is at the weddings.

Which is why – while at his last wedding – he received a text that said, “You’ll be getting an email confirmation about an Amazon order any minute. Unless I get it and delete it first. In which case, I just admitted my guilt for no reason.”

Followed by, “But I would like to say in my defense, they are gifts for my sisters.”

15 minutes later, I received his reply. “ :-) Love you.

And so my point is this…

Marriage is full of give and take. Sure, he’s doing a whole lot more of the giving in this scenario and I’m doing a whole lot more of the taking, but sometimes marriage can be hard like that.

And my point is also this…

You know you’ve married a good man when his only response to your purchasing frenzy is “Love you.” Although I can’t be certain he ever saw the previous texts, since he’s always so busy at weddings. And I did get to the Amazon email first and deleted it. So that “I love you” may have been just because he was in the middle of documenting a romantic union of two love-birds and suddenly missed me terribly. But I’m guessing not.

And I would also like to make this point…

Money can’t buy you happiness. But it can get you a pretty sweet king size headboard shipped right to your door and about anything else you can imagine with just a few clicks.

Except love. It can’t buy you that either. Good thing I don’t need it, though. ‘Cause I already got myself the best.