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.

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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.

 

Week 1

After lying dormant for a full week and a half as we all began the school routine, it appears every toy in the house has now awoken and burst forth in one fell swoop onto the living room floor. I can not walk through, which is totally fine with me, because I am wiped, I tell you. Wiped. Spent lots of Saturday and Sunday recouping from the first full week at a new school and the first full week as a mom to a school-age kid.

It is done. The first full week of the first year of the rest of her life. Yes, it may also just be kindergarten, and yes, she may just be down the hall from me, but I cried every day at least once. This parenting stuff is EMOTIONAL. Here’s a summary:

Day One:
Dropped off the eldest for her first full day. Waited at the bottom of the few stairs next to her room and watched as she quietly followed her teacher’s directions and found her place in line. Listened to the clicking of the camera next to me and the pounding of my own heart, waiting for her to turn and say “Bye, Mom! I love you!” Waited and breathed. Breathed and waited. She never turned. She filed right into her classroom without a hug, a kiss, a good-bye, or even a smile. The teacher poked her head out and said cheerfully, “Ok, you can all go and cry now.” Oh boy, did I. The whole way home. “Matt, I didn’t even tell her I love her! I thought we’d have a chance to give her a kiss! I didn’t give her a kiss!” I sobbed. He comforted, or tried to. I just kept crying.
Cried off and on the rest of the day while trying to stay in the moment with my boy. Posted this very true notice on Facebook:

GIRL NEWS: Dropped her off for her first full day of Kindergarten. This time, we didn’t get to stay. Cried like a baby on the way home. Why did the first day have to be on my day OFF? There will be no checking in on her. Although, I may or may not have texted some staff members to peek in and/or stand guard over her. Just one question: HOW DO YOU PEOPLE DO THIS EVERY SCHOOL DAY ALL YEAR FOR THIRTEEN YEARS? I will now hug each parent as they leave my classroom. I’m with you. Solidarity. You are the bravest of soldiers to have a little bit of your heart rip out each day.

BOY NEWS: In the meantime, I’m having a day with my boy. We’ve played cars, 4 wheelers, and Batman. He took me on a date to Woods. Opened doors, ordered for both of us, and paid with his very own Woods Card he got for being an awesome ring bearer. Total Stud.

And also, this: If you don’t hear Jacob talk for the rest of the year, it might be because he’s used up all his words in the last 3 hours. How thankful I am for Mommy Mondays. But if you notice I’m in a daze on Tuesdays, just know it’s likely because my ears are grossly overworked and shut themselves right down somewhere around 2pm the day before.

Today, I am grateful for: Time with my boy. Mommy Mondays are the best, even if my ears do get tired!

Day 2:
Drop off was a little easier. Teared up a bit, but not as bad. Made for darn sure I gave her a kiss and hug good-bye. Geesh. Told her I love her, and reminded her who walks the halls with her. Headed home for a bit, then back to school for my Tuesday afternoon shift. Ran into her in the hall as I was headed to the art room. Busted my buttons with pride when she waved and hollered from her class line, “Hi, Mommy! I love you!” Am I the only teacher-parent who dreamed of this moment? Cried happy tears walking back to my classroom.

Today, I am grateful for: The dream come true of having my girl in my own school, the security of having her down the hall, of knowing her teachers and the staff, of opportunities to see her throughout the day.

Day 3:
Drop off was the hardest this day. Not because of my own heart, but because of her tender little brother’s. In the car on the way, the sweet boy next to her got an overwhelming sad face (if you know him, you know his emotions are perfectly expressed in his face.) I was already sad seeing his look in the rear view mirror even before he’s said a word. Then he looked at his big sis and said, “Sissy. I dist miss you so much when you’re gone. I don’t want you to go to school!” His eyes filled with tears, and he squeaked out, “Will you dist hold my hand on da way?” Heart Break City. Massive tears and an even more massive lump in my throat. Spent much of the rest of my day wondering if I should be homeschooling just so as not to break my youngest boy’s heart each day.

Today, I am grateful for: Kids who love each other so much! They really, really do! Even if I did need to remind them of this later in the day when they fought over which My Little Pony shoes they got to play with and where to sit at the dinner table.

Day 4:
It was only day 4, and we already had a minor emergency causing her to be late for school. She has a pretty big plantar wart on her foot, and when she went to bed, we noticed redness around it and red streaking across her foot. Up and to the doctor instead of to school. She was so afraid she would miss something very important, “like song time, or dancing, or… or… recess!” No worries. Doc dug through the wart a bit to release any puss, (fun, right?), prescribed an antibiotic, and she was back to school just an hour late. Not as many tears from me this time. But there were more from me than from her when the doc mauled her foot. (I had no idea that girl could be so tough! She didn’t shed a single tear while the tender infected area was being poked, prodded, and squeezed. Interesting, considering she nearly faints – or at least cries and throws herself to the counter sobbing – whenever I have to brush her hair. Hmmm….) Once home after dropping her off, Jacob and I had this conversation:

Jacob: Mom! Here’s the plan. We are gonna play trains, then have lunch and cookies, then play trains some MORE.
Me: Nope. Sorry, Bud. The plan is we are gonna eat lunch, take you to the babysitter’s, and I’m headed to work.
Jacob: Sorry, Mom. I got bad news for ya. The plan is off!

Today, I am thankful for: Modern medicine! Antibiotics! Working half-time so I could take my daughter to the doctor without writing sub plans! A boy who knows what he wants – play time with mom – and makes me smile all the time.

Day 5:
My full day at work. We started the morning saying good-bye to Daddy, because he was headed out of town overnight for a wedding in Bellevue. Tears from both kids in the car as we drove toward Jacob’s babysitter. More tears on the way to school as she cried for her Daddy. Spent the morning trying to work in my classroom with a 4 foot leech attached to my side and standing on my feet. Suddenly, I wasn’t as sappy and sad as I was irritated and impatient. Funny how that can turn so quickly.

After a great but long full day, we left at 5:00 to pick up the boy. I was too tired to cook, or really to even think. Headed to Milt’s for pizza, then home, then back to the babysitter’s to pick up his blankie that I forgot, then home again. Noticed a nice note from my husband on the counter, and was so tired that I picked up a pen and wrote my response on the paper as though he was going to get it instantaneously. Modern technology has melted my brain. (C’mon. You know you’ve had the urge to rewind something that happened in real life, just like you do with the DVR, right???)

We got in our PJs and climbed into my bed, all 3 of us. I sat up in the middle with a little angel leaning on me on either side. “Momma, will you sing us a song?” she asked. I quietly sang the first song that came to my mind: Great is Thy Faithfulness.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee…

I choked up as I thought about the words I was singing at the end of quite a big week for me…

…Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not.
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be!…

I looked over at each of my babies.

…Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!…

The one on the right, already sound asleep. It had been an awfully big week for her, too. But each day, we had so much to be thankful for…

…Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided…

The one on the left, doesn’t move but quietly whispers, “Momma, when you’re done with this one, will you sing Jesus Loves Me?

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Bellingham Photographer -1

Bellingham Photographer -2

Creepy Crawly Crazy

I used to not be a very squeamish person. While I wouldn’t want them hanging out in my shower or anything, rodents, reptiles, and even spiders didn’t wig me out. Open wounds, blood and guts? Kind of intriguing, actually.

Things have changed a bit, and I know exactly why: Bugs hate me. They have it out for me. They are determined to turn me into a squeamish, screaming, entomophobic with sweaty palms and rapid breathing at the sight of them.

While I know for certain this is truth, I’m not exactly sure why they’ve singled me out. Although it may have something to do with the fact that about once or twice a year, I go completely rambo on every mosquito, fly, moth, fruit fly, and spider in the house, killing all in sight with a wet towel while shouting things like, “You’re going DOWN you stupid BUG! TAKE THAT!” All while leaving their dead carcasses on the walls to clean up when the massacre is finished and I have calmed down. Sometimes I even leave one or two up as a sign to other potential home-invaders, you know, to intimidate them. They need to know what I am capable of. Maybe that has backfired. Instead of intimidating them, it has just caused them to rally together their bug army and begin their attack on my psyche.

You all remember Attack Number 1: fly eggs in my fajitas. It used to be a once a week meal at our house (fajitas without fly eggs, that is). I’ve only made them once since that first attack back in June, and I could barely gag them down. True story.

Attack Number 2 was actually a series of 3 attacks in one day. Clearly their attempt to wear me down.

Attack Number 2, Part A: The kids and I noticed a yellow jacket-looking thing on the window in the dining room. Only it was much, much bigger and all black. I’ve seen various wasps, but this one was different. We stood 15 feet away and watched it’s massive body creep up the window. I’m fairly certain we heard it’s bug feet hitting the window with each step. Yes, it was that big. I sent the kids to their room for protection and swatted it (read, leaned over with a broom handle and took my best whack at it from as far away as possible.) When it was good and dead but not smooshed entirely, I examined it closely. Google says it was a black wasp, which apparently is not any more dangerous than a yellow jacket and supposedly not aggressive. Maybe not more dangerous, but seriously more intimidating. That sucker was 1 and 3/4 inches long. So while it didn’t actually come at me, I call it an attack because I’ve never seen one before or since, and because it was ONE and THREE-FOURTHS INCHES, PEOPLE. True story. I measured.

Same day, just a few minutes later. Attack Number 2, Part B. I called Matt to tell him of the crazy giant death-wasp in the window. I was standing right next to the window as I was on the phone. And suddenly, a hummingbird flew at full speed right at the window, crashing loudly and scaring me to death. I know birds often fly into windows that are so clean they seem invisible. And maybe that is what the hummingbird was doing. That was my immediate thought: Stupid bird didn’t even see the window. Except then I realized that I was on the other side of the window, and it still flew at full speed… right at me. It was on a mission to attack me with it’s long hummingbird razor beak, but my clean window (ha!) saved me. The band of bugs have enlisted the help of other creatures in their attack against me. Obviously.

Same day, after kids had gone to bed. Attack Number 2, Part C. The bug army must have noticed that while I was shaken, the giant wasp and the miniature bird attacks weren’t having their desired affect. So, they resorted to what worked in the past: eggs. No, I’m not kidding. Only this time they weren’t in my food, they were on my couches. I noticed several large moths as I entered the room. I grabbed a paper towel to get them. A couple of them tried to escape but failed. The third didn’t even try to move. Hmmmm. Why so lethargic, large moth? Ohhhhh. Because you’re LAYING EGGS on my COUCH! I didn’t even know moths would do that. Google says this sometimes happens in clothes, area rugs, and even on furniture. It takes about 5 days before they hatch and become teeny tiny caterpillars that destroy your clothing, carpet, or couch. (Adult moths don’t make the holes in your clothes. It’s the larvae that do.)

Here’s the thing: my couch doesn’t fit the description of the type of environment they prefer. It is kind of a faux suede, smooth with no crevices for hiding or fibers for clinging to. Nope, this moth was trying to send me a message right out in the open. It was a full-on attack. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this:

The final attack came yesterday, and it was the battle that won the war

After arriving home from a long but fun weekend away, the kids and I took the dog for a walk. We went our usual route, out the driveway to the right, right at the stop sign on Main. While we often walk in single file while playing “Follow the Leader,” this time, we held hands and walked side-by-side. Jacob held Izzy’s leash in his right hand, then my hand in his left. Leesie was to my left holding my other hand.

Just after turning the corner onto Main, I felt something in my nose, as though a bug had flown up it. We stopped while I swatted and blew quickly, trying to get it out. As I swatted, I noticed a little yellow thing on my arm, so I gave it a flick. When I turned my eyes to flick it, I saw in my peripheral vision there was something in my hair, like a big piece of dandruff. I gave it a shake, then noticed it fell on the front of my shirt. It looked like a little worm, less than a centimeter long. I flicked at it as well. We began walking again, when I realized the “dandruff” was still clinging to my hair. It hadn’t fallen on my shirt after all.

Suddenly I froze. I realized that the something in my nose and then on my arm and then in my hair and then on my shirt were four of the same thing. I began to examine the kids and dog, who were all right next to me the entire time. Nothing on them. Phew.

We continued to walk, when I began to feel my skin crawl. Only it wasn’t the creepy crawlies. It was crawlies creeping. All over me. A few on each arm, several on my leg. A bunch stuck to my shirt and skirt and a few in my hair where I could see them. I was covered in about 30 little worms that had rained down from the sky, directly onto ME and only ME. Like a crazy woman, I started screaming and flicking them all off and hollering at the kids to check every part of me.

I did realize I was causing a scene on a busy road and was just about to tell myself to calm down, when I noticed a little yellow worm crawling into the V of my v-neck shirt. Calming down was now out of the question. Jumping, screaming, reaching into my shirt and discovering one – cover your eyes for this next part, dad – in my bra. (Dad, I know you didn’t cover your eyes, so you’ll just have to get over the fact that I wear one. As does every other woman. Except that lady we saw at Wal-Mart the other day. But really, she should have been, too.)

A full on aerial attack, missing all 3 of my walking companions, but completely covering me. I looked up and saw massive webs full of the little creepy crawlers, ready to dive-bomb me at any moment. We ran. Only not our usual route home. We ran through the back yards of what I’m sure were nice but now terrified old ladies, in damp grass all the way to our back yard… and locked door. Annalise was just steps behind me the entire way, providing me with constant updates on the whereabouts of more worms on my back and legs but not having the courage or decency to flick them off me. Thank you so much, my dear daughter.

Continuing the crazy, I pounded on the locked door, frantically hollering for Matt to open up. The moment I was inside, I began stripping all my clothes off and throwing them on the kitchen table for further examination and determination of whether they should end up in a burn pile. Now completely naked, I ran to the bathroom to examine my hair. An “all-clear” was made, and the crazy subsided. Dressed in clean sweats and shirt, I sat down to Google once again. This is what I learned:

From Wikipedia, “The fall webworm, Hyphantria cunea, is a moth in the family Arctiidae known principally for its larval stage, which creates the characteristic webbed nests on the tree limbs of a wide variety of hardwoods in the late summer and fall… The adult moth lays her eggs on the underside of leaves in ‘hair’-covered clusters of a few hundred. Eggs hatch in about a week…

ONE moth lays a cluster of a few hundred eggs. In that giant oak tree on the Southeast corner of Main and 19th, you’ll see thousands, THOUSANDS of little moth larva, pale yellow caterpillars raining from the sky, or oak tree as it may be.

And they have won the war. I am officially creeped out, buggy crazy, sweaty-palmed hyperventilating over the thought of bugs and their eggs, and especially their larva. And how do I know for sure? Today, while teaching, I felt something in my nose and ran – no, skipped/climbed/jumped/leaped/clammered while making little shrieking noises all the way to the tissue box. I whacked one kid in the head with my flailing arms, and- only when I blew my nose and discovered there was nothing out of the ordinary in there – did I realize that I was in my classroom, 27 sets of 8 and 9-year-old eyes looking at me, wondering why their teacher just went crazy.

You win, dumb bugs. You win.

Tested

I was so gung-ho about a blog. I was excited, motivated, and had lots of things I wanted to write about. But then this week happened.

I will not go into details, but basically, this has been one of THE most challenging weeks I can remember: spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially, parentally, vehicularly, worldly, and teacherly. And I’m certain I’m missing some other -ly in there. I can really only think of 2 or 3  weeks in my adult life that were harder. I am drained. Completely emptied. I have not felt joyful.

Talk about testing my “Lift my eyes to the hills” challenge. Finding my joy? Ummm…. we won’t go there.

So I’ve decided I need to write. Because I need to focus on the moments that did bring joy – even if there weren’t many and they were short lived. And as I am spending a lot of my week trying to remember where my help comes from – because I’ve needed that help sooo much – I also need to be thankful to Him who is the giver of all good things. So here are this week’s “good things” in no particular order:

1. My husband. Wow. What a rock he has been. I am so grateful.

2. Jacob. Oh man. I could go on and on about the joy this kid brings. But one of my favorites recently is when he gets super protective and tells off someone who touches me. Daddy, the chiropractor, you name it. He scowls. And with his furrowed brow, he says, “No do dat!” or “You no kiss my Mama!” (That second one was to daddy, just to be clear.) I also love when he bursts into song then pauses and says, “I singing, Mama! I singing! Sing too!”

3.  An unexpected visit at some family/church family/friends’ house. We laughed, were entertained by Jacob’s singing, and enjoyed our time immensely. Up until the last 5 minutes when  “Parentally Hard Act I” took place. But such is life.

4. Mom home from Indonesia! Phew! 3 cheers for being able to talk on the phone with my mom when I want to! (Which is daily. Sorry, Matt.)

5.  Our pastor’s wife bringing Jacob up front during church to help her make an announcement about the nursery expanding. I’m pretty sure he knows when he’s doing it, but he completely melted my heart when he waved and said, “Hi, Mommy!” Because in all the whole congregation, I’m the one he’d want to go to.

6.  Celebrating my brother-in-law’s birthday. Because Tom is a cool guy and, well, chocolate cake is always good. But more importantly, it was nice to visit with Matt’s family. We haven’t done that in a while. And we got to see Matt’s mom’s new business. She is the new owner of Curves in Lynden. The remodel is astounding! It actually makes me want to work out. (If you haven’t seen it, you should like it on Facebook and check out the before/after pics!)

7. Valentine’s Day dinner. Not the whole day. Just the dinner. Well, the evening following the dinner was nice too. We just won’t discuss the earlier part of the day. It had something to do with “Parentally Hard Act II: And You Thought It Couldn’t Get Any Worse.” But the dinner… pink heart-shaped pancakes (Leesie’s fav) and sausage (Jacob’s fav – and pretty much the only protein he likes) made for a pleasant meal with the people I love. No arguing about how many more bites needed to be eaten. No asking for something else to eat. No “I no like it. It YUCKY.” from Jacob. Ah. Peace.

8. Dinner was followed by my favorite moment of the week – singing with my girl. We rehearsed in the car all week and surprised daddy with a duet – her idea. If singing with an adorable and joyful girl  – a song about God’s faithfulness and love – doesn’t cheer you up, then what will? Am I right?

9. In one of my toughest moments – this time at work – my partner and friend showed up, on her day off, to help me get through it. She stepped in to the teacher role so I could step out. She brought Valentines to share. And she prayed for the hurt.  How wonderful to be cared for and to have a work partner be so kind-hearted. And what a blessing that she loves Jesus, too.

10. My students’ faces as they excitedly gave me my Valentine’s gifts and cards: Lindor truffles in a heart box, a single red rose, a stuffed dog, a note pad “because teachers like note pads and that kind of stuff,” a few hand-made cards, and a smashed homemade pink-frosted cookie from an adorable boy with a huge smile. There were other things as well. And each face was full of joy in the giving.

11. The Ferndale Levy Passed!!! WAHOO! I will have a job next year. Probably.

12. Twice today I received a text from someone I love. Each person said some encouraging words and ended the text with “Peace be with you.”  How much I needed that peace. I am so grateful for the love of family, friends, and Jesus. It is enough.

Peace be with YOU.

Oh yes. Some of you have asked how to follow the blog. (If you choose to, I promise they will not be as heavy-hearted. Lots of laughter to come from the kids.) But if you want to, click “Follow”  on the right side of this page.