On The Day We Met — Elizabeth Rose

2013-09-08 16.05.03 2013-09-08 14.51.09

On the day we met…

I woke up at your Uncle Mark and Aunt Alise’s house.  Aunt Alise gathered up your cousin Henry’s necessities, and Uncle Mark made us coffee.  I packed my stuff to go back home to Omaha after visiting you.

We stopped at IHOP and had some delicious pancakes with all the different syrups.  The waitress fell in love with Henry.

We arrived at your house before you did.  We played with Henry and chatted, excited to see you and your parents.

Your dad carried you into the house, and we all gazed into the car seat…this tiny creature, sleeping peacefully.

I took you out, and your momma said we could take your hat off.  Aunt Alise and I both gushed in surprise over all your hair!

You were so tiny…you fit from my elbows to my fingertips while you were bundled up in a blanket.

For a little while, you had your eyes open, bright and curious.  You couldn’t wait to see more of this new world…and we couldn’t wait to see more of who you would become.

My niece Elizabeth Rose, born September 6, 2013

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The Day We Met

 

On the day we met, it was your birthday — not your first birthday; the one before that.

It was one of those gorgeous fall days that make you wish fall would last forever.  The sun was shining all day long.  In the morning it was crisp, cold enough you think you need gloves.  But by mid-afternoon, you don’t even need a sweater.

On the day we met, I found out about you first thing when I woke up.  Your daddy said I should come see you that night.

You looked all scrunchie and crabby, but you were actually so calm and mellow.  You made little noises — you hooted.  You covered your face with your hands a lot.

On the day we met, your momma was joyful.  Your daddy was confident.  They were both fearless.  “It’s a baby, not a dinosaur,” your daddy said.

We had some dinner, and we laughed and talked about Casey’s pizza and flipping mattresses and the magical powers of belly buttons.  Your momma insisted that she was happy to see us, even though she must have been so tired.  Eventually we said goodnight, and I drove back home through the darkness, already anticipating the next time I would get to see you.

My nephew Henry David, born November 8, 2012, 5:00 AM, 9 lbs. 11 oz.

Optimism

Okay, the pervasive Wednesday and Thursday Optimism is making up for the Sunday Night Dread!  🙂

LOOOONG post about teaching to come soon, but tonight, I’m just going to let my unstoppable optimism run through a bunch of random things that have been going through my head today.

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Yay, Panthers!!!  Or as my friend Levi said on Facebook: “I LOVE THE PANTHERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  Me too, Levi, me too!   🙂  On to round 2!

My sister Sarah and I texted back and forth on the subject of basketball for quite awhile tonight.  For two girly-girls, one of whom never played sports in high school (me), and the other who doesn’t even like to watch football, for crying out loud (HER!), that was quite unusual!

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I must say, though, I am beginning to redeem myself.  Three years of ultimate frisbee all summer long.  Several 5K races…and one more in less than two weeks.  Lots and lots and LOTS of yoga.  I might not want to play basketball and volleyball, but I’ve found several “sports” that I love!

(Actually, I think volleyball is pretty fun…and in high school gym class, basketball was my favorite thing to do…if you can call it “favorite” when it’s really “slightly better than miserable”…but playing on a bar league volleyball team or playing pick-up basketball both make me feel like I’m in P.E. all over again.)

I still miss kickball…wish I could find a place to play that, other than during recess duty!  Maybe play with kids my own size!  🙂

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Womens  Light Blue Bridgeport Linen Classics TOMS Shoes Side
I’m loving these Spring-ish little shoes from TOMS Shoes!  Not sure if I can justify spending the money…I tend to gravitate toward flip flops anyway.  But I can’t wear flip flops to work…
Womens  Barletta Cordones TOMS Shoes Side
I’m also feelin’ the Barletta Cordones, and they really would be a wise purchase in regards to my current shoe needs, but my size is not available.  Make some more, TOMS, make some more!
Have you heard of TOMS?  You buy a pair of new shoes, they donate a pair of new shoes to a child in need.  You buy two pairs, they donate two pairs.  You buy three…you get the idea.  I haven’t bought any yet, but I’ve heard that they are also the most comfortable shoes you’ll ever wear.  More comfortable than my Skechers that I wear practically every day?  🙂  I’ll let you know.  If they ever stock up on the Barletta Cordones in my size.
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I came home with a nasty migraine today.  The kind where I pee in the dark because turning on the bathroom light makes me hold my head in agony.  The kind where I want to watch the Northern Iowa game, but mostly I just have to shut my eyes and listen.  The kind where I know the weather is awesome, and I feel the breeze coming in the living room window, and I’m loving it, but I could no sooner go outside and go for a walk or a run than I could bring myself to cut off my own pinky finger with a steak knife.
Yes, they are that bad.
So now that I had some Advil, and a lot of water, and a completely harmless dinner of a peanut butter banana, and it is gradually fading away…I’m thinking about what caused it.  Going down my habitual checklist.  Beef?  No.  Jell-o?  No.  Marshmallows?  Um, no.  Could it have been the lunchmeat?  Nope, I checked the label, it’s all turkey.  Artificial food coloring?  No…oh, wait…
Orange soda.  Lots of it.  Over the past few days.  Of course.  It was on its way to becoming a very bad habit.  And what do we know about orange?  Yellow plus red.  Nasty, toxic, made-from-a-cow red.  So much for that bad habit.  Don’t worry coffee, you are not being replaced by orange soda!  🙂  (Unless they start making clear orange soda…)
But, fading away though it may be, I know that the only sure cure is time, aka, a good night’s sleep, so I’m planning on being asleep before the Advil wears off.
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I toured an apartment with a huge, lovely soaking tub the other day.  It was beautiful.  Like the smell of a brand new Altima, the idea of sitting in that huge tub, full of bubbles and yummy smells, may have sold me.  But more on that later.  After I make more decisions.  And see more apartments.  With, or *sigh* without, soaking tubs.
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You know I love birth stories.  Of all the birth stories I have ever read…hospital, home birth, birth center…midwife-attended, physician attended, unattended…this story is my favorite.  Hands down.  None of the controversial issues matter one bit in this story.  It’s all about the reason you do it.
And what I learned from this story is the reason I’m feeling the love for my students, these days.  They are not what I expected.  I could list all the things I didn’t expect, but it’s all just labels.  Issues to deal with, for sure.  But none of that matters as much as the kids.  They are people.  Little, unique, feeling, loving, breakable people.  If they looked up at me and said, “Miss B., I’m not what you expected, but teach me anyway?”  Oh, it would break me.
I recently read a little anecdote about a woman who is single in her forties, and she is the vice-principal of an elementary school.  She says that instead of a “bundle of joy” to raise, she is blessed with “daily bundles.”  She says, every day, there are children at her school who need to be loved on, who need to be nurtured and cared for and raised.  And she prays to be a good nurturer for her “daily bundle.”  I like that.
I just cannot imagine what it feels like, loving a baby who is yours.  I cannot imagine making that journey from expectation and joy, through unexpected and grief, to love.  Even in an experience that goes exactly as expected…I cannot imagine making the journey from expectation to such a life-changing reality.  I do imagine that your life doesn’t really start until you walk that road of motherhood.  Well, maybe not “your life doesn’t start,” but something.  I imagine that motherhood changes you in ways you can’t know until you experience it.  And I haven’t experienced it, but I can’t turn away from stories about it.
Beware…it made me cry.  Seriously, tears running down my face, cry.  But it’s so worth it. 

Sarah & Jon

siblings

 

Our family has grown once again!  It is such a blessing to add two siblings in one year.  Yesterday Sarah and Jon got married, and no matter what he tells you, Jon is lucky and thrilled to have me for a sister-in-law!  🙂  And seriously, I am happy to welcome him to the family!

The maid of honor traditionally gives a speech at a wedding reception.  I would imagine that the maid of honor is traditionally nervous for that speech!  And I am nothing if not traditional.  🙂  So I don’t know exactly what I said.  I know what I meant to say, and I hope that’s the message that came across.

Here is what I hope I said:

Sarah and I have been best friends for a long time now.  We were born just 23 months apart, so I don’t remember her not being there, and she obviously doesn’t remember me not being there.  We started out doing everything together, from playing when we were supposed to be sleeping, to being “two moms” to all our stuffed animals, to having picnics outside with saltines and apple slices.

Sarah is my best friend, and she always will be.

Sarah has always been a good influence, a good example of how to live, and a strong leader.  As we have grown up a little more the past few years, and we have –hopefully!– each been growing in our faith, I have seen Sarah be a good influence on the faith of the people around her.  But since she met Jon, there has been one thing stuck in my head:

Let your light shine before men, so that they might see your good works and praise your Father in heaven.

Together, Sarah and Jon seem to have a light that shines.  They both have such a servant heart, always wanting to know what they can do to make someone’s life easier.  They both want to be a good example to those around them, to do the right thing whether or not it is popular or comfortable.  They ask everyone around them, in so many ways with their words and their actions, “What can I do to help you today?”

I’m sure Sarah and Jon have been given plenty of good advice today.  Many people have prayed for them today, and we will continue to pray for them.  I can’t say anything else better than it has been said today.  So let me finish with two verses from Romans, in a section with the fitting heading “Marks of the True Christian.”

Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, –and we all pray you won’t have too much of that!– and persevere in prayer.

Congratulations, Sarah and Jon!

Rebellion

I recently heard the statement that rebelling is a form of self-preservation, a way of claiming your space or your rights, so to speak. 

I certainly like that idea better than “rebellion=character flaw.”  🙂

 

I should be reading two and a half more chapters in The CAFE Book: Engaging All Students in Daily Literacy Assessment and Instruction.  (Doesn’t that sound like a hoot and a half.)  I want to be watching t.v.  I would feel more inner peace if I were washing dishes and cleaning the bathroom.  I need to be asleep. 

Instead, I am rebelling against all those things, and I’m blogging.  I am in great need of self-preservation.  I am in great need of reclaiming my space in my life.

I am stressed.

I am eating my words, spoken about six months ago.  A colleague asked me, “Are you ready for the pressure of teaching first grade next year?  Are you sure you want all that stress?”  I answered that I was looking forward to just teaching literacy, math, science, and social studies, and not being responsible for music, large motor, and art.  I said I was looking forward to students who knew how to wash their hands and use a kleenex and zip their coats.  I said I was looking forward to having lunch, recess, music, P.E., and art time away from my students, rather than a 25-minute lunch break a couple times a week.  I couldn’t possibly see how, with all that planning time, teaching first grade could be more pressure than teaching preschool. 

(I hear how that sounds, and in the interest of self-preservation, don’t you DARE judge preschool teachers unless you’ve been there.  I am not trying to sound funny, I am not trying to make you laugh.  I am trying to hold onto my sanity with my fingernails.)

I…WAS…WRONG.

I don’t understand how people enjoy this, or how people want to do this again after experiencing it for one year.  The workload grows every day.  I refuse to stay at school for 18 hours a day, but even if I did, I wouldn’t be done.  My to-do list gets longer, instead of shorter.  I feel as though I am dropping the ball and letting people down on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. 

I feel as though I don’t have time to enjoy my students.  Truthfully, as a preschool teacher I formed a bond with every single child I taught.  I still see them in the hall and they are “mine.”  And even the oldest former preschoolers find me for a hug several times a week.  A key component of helping them succeed in preschool and really accomplish all we needed to accomplish to prepare them for kindergarten was to enjoy them, to really get to know them and love on them and have fun with them.  A child who is enjoyed wants to do a good job for you.  We don’t enjoy each other this year.  I don’t have time to enjoy them.  I don’t feel I’m allowed to have fun, or to allow them to have fun.  The only students that I really feel a bond with are my former preschoolers, and we already had a bond! 

I feel as though if I’m doing it right, teaching should take up my whole life.  I shouldn’t have a dog, or be in music ensembles, or have friends or family, because the most important thing in my life is supposed to be my job.  To come home and feed my kids supper and put them to bed, if I had kids, is supposed be like an unimportant sidenote to my day.  If that is the case, I will not be a teacher when it’s time to raise kids.  Having three months of summer would not make it worth nine months of this.  Even in my life as it is now, I can’t live like this.  I can’t live with the guilt of going to choir at 7:30 when there are teaching things to do, and I also can’t live with not going to choir, or walking the dog, or hanging out with my friends, or seeing my family because my whole life is about my job.  I can’t live with the fact that tonight, I chose not to go swimming with some friends because I have those stupid three chapters to read.  I avoided friends in order to avoid the guilt of not making my job my whole life, and therefore, tonight, my job is my whole life.  My job isn’t important enough to be my whole life. 

 

There are many factors at work here, but if what could be fixed were fixed, I’m still not sure this would be worth  it.  If I had my own classroom…If I had a great class…If I had windows…aaahhh, windows…  (It’s going to get darker before it gets lighter.  I need all the sunshine I can get.)  I am working in a culture that would have you believe that you want one thing—to be successful at work.  If you don’t have a successful marriage, if you’re not raising kind and loving children, if you don’t have a relationship with your parents or siblings, if you don’t have a relationship with God…it doesn’t matter, because you’re a really good (insert career here).  Even if I loved it, it wouldn’t be worth that. 

I may be in the minority here, but to me the most important thing is family.  Apart from God, obviously.  Except “apart from God” isn’t the right statement, becuase God established family as the “human unit,” if you’ll forgive my made-up term.  🙂  Petals come in blossoms, mountains come in ranges, kittens come in litters, humans come in families.  Catch my drift?  🙂  Well, my family relationships totally suck, but I have my work…  That’s the most backwards sentiment ever.  Family is the important thing in life.  If the golden rule is to love my neighbor as myself, my family members are my closest neighbors.  My favorite jobs I’ve ever had:  working in the infant room at the day care center, and teaching preschool…neither of them would be any fun if they were to the exclusion of the important things.  The best job I can think of: making music for a living…doesn’t hold a candle to family.  Truly.

 

Of all the jobs in the world…teaching is about children!  After 5 years, I am still just indignant to think that, of all the jobs in the world, this one would make me feel guilty for neglecting it in favor of family and friends!  Never in my life did I expect to write a blog post with the topics family and teaching as opposing ideas! 

So, because I’ve already neglected my friends tonight, and because I have family staying with me this weekend, I am rebelling against my job, not reading my three chapters, and reestablishing my boundaries by going to sleep, so that I can truly enjoy my family this weekend!

Passions

Well, crapola, I wanted to be asleep by now, but I feel like blogging! 

(Over the weekend I bought a book called Feel: The Power of Listening to Your Heart, by Matthew Elliot.  Does that not sound like just the book for me?  🙂  I’ll let you know how it is…)

(And…”crapola”…isn’t that a blast from the past?  I think I started using that word when I was about 12?  It hasn’t made an appearance in awhile!)

Not long ago, I briefly talked about seeing the big picture.  I mentioned that at that moment, I felt I could see the big picture more clearly than usual.  Well let me tell you…I can not!  The entire time I was feeling unbearably discontent with everything, I had this nagging feeling that nothing would come of all my ranting.  I had a little voice telling me that the “big picture” was deceptive, that I was still seeing a small window, and from a very specific perspective.

Well, a few weeks later, of course my perspective has changed a little.  Life changes, things change, perspectives change.  And I am here to tell you, what I saw back then doesn’t quite match up with what I see today.

I think I need to get into specifics, to explain myself clearly.

At that moment, when I wrote about the “big picture,” I was thinking about how wonderful it would be to not be a teacher, to have a career in music.  Because music is my one big passion, my one big dream.

As though there were just one.

The truth is, my passion for music is real, and just as big as I said, and it’s a part of my life and my personality every day.  But I am passionate about many things, and when some get ignored or rejected, others seem to get bigger.  And since the end of a certain relationship-that-shall-not-be-named, (*giggle*, there is no bitterness, I’m just being dramatic!), I’ve realized how “fine” I am on my own, how completely I would accept a life of singleness, if that’s what God has for me.  Which led to almost an embracing of that thought, an assuming that I will be single. 

Which led to a single, startling, scary thought:  “If I knew for certain that God is calling me to be single…that I’m definitely not ‘waiting’ for that season of my life to begin…I don’t want to be a teacher.” 

Which led to another, more scary thought:  “I don’t know what I want to be.”  Which led to an extreme assumption: that there is one thing that I am supposed to “be,” and if I figure out what it is, all my problems will be solved and my life will be perfect.  Which led to my thinking that I am supposed to “be” in the world of music. 

And yes, if there is only one passion that I get to keep, it would be music.  It has to be.  I can’t live without it.

But I don’t think there is only one passion that I am supposed to keep!

 

Today is a “homebirth day,” it seems.  I watched a video from Sara at Walk Slowly, Live Wildly that is a beautiful slide show of her daughter’s birth.  And as I commented to Sara, I think homebirth is in my soul!  🙂  And then on 18 Kids & Counting tonight, I watched the first Duggar grandchild come into the world via–surprise!–a homebirth.  I can’t watch a birth, see pictures of a birth, read or hear about a birth, without hearing a voice deep inside me saying, I want to do that!  I am not married, I am not pregnant, I don’t have any children…there is no reason for me to be as “hooked” on birth stories as I am.  I was reminded that birth…homebirth…mothering…well, music is definitely not the one thing for me!

Tonight I was reading through some of my favorite blog posts that I’ve written, and there are definitely some diverse passions there!  I read a post that I wrote where I said that thinking about homeschooling gives me butterflies in my stomach.  I read a post about birth that is more than most girls in my position know about birth.  I read a few posts about how I feel about my siblings.  I read posts about cleaning.  I read posts about books I’ve read.  And movies I’ve watched.  And t.v. shows that I’m into.

And, yes, I read many, many posts about song lyrics, bands I’m into, singing, playing instruments, going to concerts.

 

So, off the top of my head:

MUSIC: singing, playing, listening to, discovering new bands to listen to, going to concerts…

FAMILY: honoring my parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles, being best friends with my siblings, the value of accepting and encouraging one another, the value of marriage, the value of children…speaking of which…

CHILDREN: homeschooling, homebirthing, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, reading to, singing with, listening to, lovingly ignoring, hugging & kissing…(yeah, when I have my own kids, I’m going to have to acquire some more passions that would fit with the teen years)…

STORIES: books, books, and more books, movies, t.v. shows…

HOMEMAKING: cleaning, cooking, creating a space that is warm and comfortable and encourages relationships…

FOOD: green smoothies, new recipes, clean eating, all things fruit & vegetable…and the occasional box of Lucky Charms…

 

I look at that list, and I think, “Well crapola, I really don’t want to be a teacher!”  (Let’s just keep using the pre-teen expletive, shall we?)  But I think how much I love to be on stage playing music, and I think about how much I would love to be a homebirthing, breastfeeding, homeschooling mama…and those two things are at war with each other, if I let my imagination get the best of me.  The truth is, in reality, those two things are going to find a way to coexist in one person, because neither one is going anywhere.

I know that living without a musical outlet sends me a little bit ’round the bend.  I’m aware of that, and it’s something I have to deal with and keep tabs on.  (Oh, that sounds so boring!  I love needing a musical outlet!  It’s a pleasure to deal with that part of my personality!  Doesn’t that sound better?)  And music is, most definitely, my one thing.  But it is not my only thing.

 

So, then, I don’t want to be a teacher, at least not a public school first grade teacher.  What could I do, for money, related to any of those things up there?  Maybe I can publish my upcoming NaNoWriMo novel?  (If I have time to actually write it.)  Maybe I can help choose the music used in movies and t.v. shows?  (What are those people called, exactly?)  Maybe I can be a midwife?  (No, I didn’t think so either.  If I were the medical sort.)  Maybe I should be a Natural Family Planning counselor?  (No…)  Maybe I can be a professional triangle player…

Maybe I can find a job, related to children, using the education I already have, that fits with the way I think kids learn and grow best.  One that doesn’t make me panic and think: WE’RE RUINING THEM!!!  One where I can encourage, motivate, and inspire kids to take charge of their own learning…

I think I had a job like that last year…  🙂

 

Okay, now tell me honestly.  Just how crazy do you think I am right now?  🙂

Annabelle

Would you mind taking a moment to pray for a little girl named Annabelle?  She is about a week old, and she is in the hospital fighting a sepsis infection.  Please pray for her to be strong and get well, and comfort for her family.  Thanks!

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