Wednesday, December 26, 2012

This break is allowing me to...

...sleep a little later.
...pick up Jett throughout the day.
...explain things to my older children that have been left unsaid because we just didn't have time.
...plan meals, shop for groceries, and cook.
...take a nap.
...lay my baby down for naps and enjoy the cuddles and sweetness that come with it.
...play games with my daughter.
...read.
...visit with friends.
...think about my health.
...sort through pictures.
...clean out my recipes.
...watch my children play in the snow.
...sit and chat with my daughter.
...watch a movie with my family.
...hear my kids' stories...about important things, silly things, and funny things.
...browse in a store and not feel pressed for time.
...treat my kids to special yummies.
...focus on the things happening inside the walls of this house.

Too many of the things I wanted to type haven't happened yet.  I'm hoping to...
...play Barbies with Jenna.
...go for a bike ride with my big kids.
...go for a walk with our family.
...go to the movies with my family.
...do random acts of kindness with my kids.
...bake with my kids.
...visit our neighbors with my family.
...have friends over to hang out.
...have a family game night.
...draw with Asa.
...make up a dance routine with Rylee.
...go on a date with Joel.
...watch more movies as a family.
...cook more.
...organize more.

Ahhh....break from routine!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Quick Follow-Up

That quagmire I mentioned in my last post...well, I think I came to a comfortable place about it.

We went to church on Wednesday night.  Prior to church starting, I was sitting in the Cafe and I heard someone ask our pastor a question about how to best share the Gospel with some family they would be visiting.  The woman explained that the family came from a denomination that was rather legalistic.  Our pastor responded with an encouragement to just love them.  Then, he said something I don't think I'll soon forget.

"I've never met a happy legalist."

And, that was it.  It was the little tidbit I needed to confirm to me that my choice was just fine.

See, when our kids asked us about Santa and we decided to tell them the truth, it wasn't because I didn't like Santa.  I'll be honest and say during the first year it was really hard to not be angry at the way Santa has morphed and replaced Jesus in much of our culture.  I think I was frustrated.  My kids asked a question I wasn't really prepared to answer.

But, as time has passed, we have gained clarity.  We have figured out better ways to explain things.  We've figured out how to have more balance.

For me, it's the same old story.  I realize something I've been missing and I get extreme about it.  Then, over time, I mellow.  The pendulum swings back the other way a little and I find the balance.

When my pastor made the statement about love and legalism, it just resounded.  I was tempted to think I had done something wrong, against my own standard.  But, it's a false standard.  I was being legalistic with myself.  I wanted to host a Polar Express day so my kids could enjoy a movie and hot cocoa.  I wanted to express love to them.  And, if I erred, it was on the side of love.  That's the way I want to err every time!

I want to be a happy free woman who loves God and loves others.  I want the banner over me to be LOVE, not a rule.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Now showing

My co-teacher and I hosted a Polar Express day today.  We have half days today through Friday.  The kids have been struggling to stay focused since we returned from Thanksgiving break.  It's such a hard time of year to keep them engaged.  Family gatherings, Christmas parties, staying up late to watch movies or look at lights or decorate or visit with friends or...  you name it!  Parents get much more lax in their routines.  It shows in the classroom BIG time!

So, back to today... I gave a big unit summation quiz yesterday.  We are now officially done studying Colonial America.  So, I figured we could do some fun things for the next three half days.  Friday is class party day, so that's taken care of.  Tomorrow I'm having the kids do a few projects they can take home as a gift for their parents.  I heard some buzz about other classes (2nd grade and then 1st grade) doing a Polar Express day.  The kids wear jammies to school and drink hot cocoa while watching the movie.  Hmmm....  sounds good!

So, I printed tickets and we made our plan.

Only problem for me (personally) is that I really don't care for Polar Express too much.

I swept those personal feelings about the book/movie under the rug because everyone else was showing it and getting in the spirit.

But, I have to admit that today it bothered me.  First, I read the students the book and then we watched the movie.  I even bought jingle bells to give one to each kid (because I remember that's what another teacher did and it goes with the theme).

But, here's my conundrum, I don't know how I feel about the message of the book.  I mean, I am the person who wrote about why we told our kids the truth about Christmas at a young age. I'm also the person who has had hard conversations with close friends challenging them when they say things like "I saw him once" or "I still believe" to a child.  I mean, what does that mean?  "I still believe."  Still believe in what?!  You do NOT believe there is a man living at the North Pole who gives gifts to nice kids and not to naughty ones.  If you say that, you must NOT teach school because you will certainly discover those very naughty kids got gifts and Santa must be off his rocker!

But, this piece of our culture is so tricky.  I'm absolutely NOT in favor of banishing all things Santa or protesting his existence.  I just think there must be some balance somewhere.

Maybe I struggle with this topic because my children are still in a concrete thinking phase.  They take their teachers at their word.  They believe them.  So, when my children ask me "is he real" and I answer honestly and then they hear their teacher say things like "He's real if you believe", they are totally confused!  Did I just feed that monster today as a teacher?  I think I did.

Ugh.

This post has absolutely no answers.  It's just my rambling about the quagmire in which I found myself today.  It stinks to be reading your class a book while in the back of your mind you are questioning whether or not you made a big mistake.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Nothing Like It...

I have strep throat.  Thankfully, I caught it right at the beginning and got on meds.  The doc says I can go back to school tomorrow.

But, there's nothing like a sudden sickness to force me out and show me what a control freak I am, even in my classroom!

I have sub plans. I have my regular lesson plans.  I have a neat and tidy classroom...for the most part.  But, I had plans!  I had things I needed and wanted to accomplish with my students today. They are mine.  urgh.

So funny.  I felt fine.  My throat was just very, very sore.  I woke yesterday morning with it hurting very badly, but figured it was from allergies.  It got a little better while I was constantly drinking during the day, but when it started getting worse again at nightfall, I decided to go to an urgent care.  The test popped positive very quickly.  The doc wrote me a script and then gave me a shot to bolster the fight.

I already felt better this morning but couldn't risk exposing any of my students to the virus, so I had to stay home.  I graded lots of papers, reorganized some things, and watched some t.v.  I eventually took a short nap.  But, I have to say, forced banishment is probably the only way this would have happened.

Last night I was up late adjusting my plans, writing sticky notes for my sub, and trying to think of how to control everything while not there.  Ha!  Who am I kidding?  I'm not really in control of anything.

I'm so glad something called strep showed up to remind me.  I needed the kick in the pants.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

No Doubt About It

A million posts fill my head as I am in traffic or in the shower.  Then, I sit to write and I'm blank.

I know I wanted to write about this transition of my life, but for that very life I can't think of a single thing right now.

I vacillate in my mind between being really honest on this forum and just putting up the pretty stuff.  I have no clue who even checks this blog anymore.  It's been so long forgotten.

The brutal honest truth in this season of life is that it's tiring.  I can't say "hard" because teaching comes quite naturally to me.  I guess that "bossy" title I loathed and was criticized for throughout childhood is actually an asset when it comes to teaching.  I have command of my classroom and can "manage" it very well.  My students listen to me and, for the most part, stay in line and let us get down to business.  They know they are loved.  At least, I hope they know that.  If they leave with more knowledge but not knowing that they are deeply loved by one more adult in their life, then I have failed with one of my primary goals.

I am incredibly blessed.  I often just sit and think about all the pieces that have fit together to form this very place where I get to exist and thrive.  The intricacies of detail that all fit perfectly together are just too incredible.  I could not have orchestrated it if I tried.  My mom moving to live with us, the timing of support and certificates, tests being prepped for a passed, childcare for Jett, jobs for Joel and I, being with three of my children every single day....

But, this place in life is tiring.  Anyone who has taught knows what I mean.  Everyone says your first year is like a beating.  I understand.  Honestly, I'm grateful it came in this season.  I mean, it's definitely more taxing to experience my first year while I'm also a wife and mother to four children.  But, it also gives me a perspective that would have been lacking 8 years ago.

I rarely look through the lens and see my classroom as just a teacher.  I'm always a mother first.  I am a mom.  It's just who I am.  It defines me more than my role as a teacher in a classroom ever will. I'm a teacher.  I've embraced it fully. But, I'm a mama.  I'm a much better teacher because I'm a mama.  My children have had fantastic teachers who aren't mothers.  I don't know if they'll be "better" after they become mothers.  I just know I am better because I'm a mother.

When I get frustrated with a student--whether it's because they aren't "getting it" or because they can't seem to control their behavior--I end up getting reminded that this is someone's Rylee.  This child is the baby that's celebrated every year by another mother.  They have goals and hopes and dreams for this child.  They would want me to be patient and understanding.  This child deserves for me to be understanding.  When I can't get it right I want others to be understanding with me.  And, ultimately, I want this child to learn love.  Why bother to teach him how to read better if I can't teach him the more important thing of love? How can I teach love unless I demonstrate it?

It's a constant asking of Jesus to fill me, to overflow me.  He must be my hands and feet because too often my hands are too sweaty and my feet too achy.

I am still dawdling my way through 2 Timothy during quiet times.  I keep hanging up on the verse that talks about being ready in season and out.  I am wondering what season this is.  I remember a time in the not to distant past when I wondered if I would ever have (and hoped for) opportunities to really put my faith into practice.  I felt like I was always home and surrounded by a Christian bubble.  ha!  Of course, my home and children are a primary mission field.  I see it all the more now that I'm in "their" environment all day every day.

It's exhausting.  The schedule, the pace, the expectations, the demands, the thinking and learning and planning...  I'm sure I'm not doing half of it right and I'm not even doing some things.  But, wow, the joy.  There is still great joy in knowing I'm right where I'm supposed to be right now.