Monday, August 31, 2015

Don't read this, Darcee. It's bad enough one of us spends the day bawling our eyes out...

I went shopping yesterday with Sofi. We went to buy a baby gift for a dear friend from Orlando who was pregnant when we moved and had her baby, a little girl, just a few weeks ago. It's her fourth child, the first one I won't know and love before they walk or talk. I bought a lot of cute baby girl things. A lot. J nearly had a heart attack when he saw the bill. I think I was trying to buy something not in that store...

My sister had her first baby last fall, before we had any inkling of the eventuality of this move. She had a baby girl. I was able to fly home to be with her the morning she was born and spend ten days helping Polly and getting to know Felicity. It was precious, but it nearly killed me to leave. I left not knowing when I could come back, perhaps not till Felicity was walking and talking, maybe not seeing them again before they left for the mission field. I left one sister with a newborn baby and one sister halfway to her due date with her first boy.

Another sister had a baby last fall that I still have not met. She and her husband live on the other side of the country and Lord knows when we will see them again. It's already been years...

Despite the move "back home", I still feel as though pieces of my heart are scattered all around the country in different places and the effort of reaching out and finding our place and our people here feels momentous today. I feel a little worn, thin; perhaps gunshy. If, God forbid, we have to move again, who will I be leaving behind this time?

Friday, August 28, 2015

You should be so lucky: in defense of teachers

Few things get my dander up as quickly and as thoroughly as that old chestnut that people like to pull out during those awkward pauses in polite social conversations:

"Sooo, a teacher, huh? Is it true what they say, that those who can, do, and those who can't, teach?"

And tittering abounds.


I have been privileged in my life to spend a lot of time in the company of teachers. I know everyone likes to make the caveat that there ARE bad teachers out there, but in fourteen years in the business (so to speak) I have never met one of them. The teachers I have met are passionate about what they do. No one goes into teaching to "make the big bucks." People become teachers because they believe in education. They believe that investments made in children's lives in the early years pay back societal dividends for the rest of their lives. They believe that teaching a child how to think, how to learn, how to problem-solve will make a difference in how that child thinks, learns and deals with problems for the rest of their lives. They are in that classroom every day armed with the determination and dedication to give your child the tools for success. In spite of themselves, sometimes.

And it's not just the hours in the classroom either. Don't make the mistake of thinking that a teacher's life is a cushy one-- out at 3:00pm and off all summer. Heavens no! Those hours in the classroom are enabled only by hours in the evenings, weekends and all summer; preparing, learning, dreaming, problem-solving and exploring. Not to mention all the diplomatic negotiations going on to keep parents involved, informed and pacified. These teachers eat, sleep and dream their job. You get a group of teachers in a room together on a weekend, put a couple of beers in their hands, what do you think they're talking about halfway through the first bottle? Sports? No. Politics? Maybe. The senior class this year? Definitely. The best use of technology in the classroom? Absolutely. Strategies for engaging the kids in a difficult novel or scientific study? Every time.

Some people like to complain about the "benefits" that teachers get. Retirement. Healthcare. Etc. You know why those things are important for teachers? I'll tell you why. You know how it feels at the end of the summer when your two, maybe three, maybe four children are starting to get a little antsy, kind of bored with the "freedom" of summer vacation? That tense feeling of "can I make it two more weeks till they go back to school???" Yes. That right there. That's why teachers ought to get good retirement benefits and decent healthcare. Because they are WORTH IT. Because are you ready to do their job?

And you know what else? They love it. They do it because they are awesome at it and because they love it (and because they're crazy) and because they love your kid, too. Can you believe that? They do. Your child walks into that teacher's classroom the first day of school and finds a place in their heart. Boom. Just like that. And these amazing people are going to be praying for your child, talking to your child, thinking about his or her needs, working with you to guide that child through the year. And then at the end of the year or the next, that kid is moving on to the next group of teachers and another highly educated, passionate, motivated, interested and loving adult is going to pour themselves into your child for another year.

And so on.

I say let's start a new chestnut. Try this out:

"Those who can't teach send their children, the hope of the future, their pride and joy, to spend eight hours every day, five days a week, to be educated in the art of human knowledge, behavior and accomplishment by those who CAN!!"

That's the truth.

You should BE so lucky.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Nothing to say.

I don't have any words rolling around in my head, trying to escape onto a page/screen this morning. So this post is more of a place-holder, a virtual finger in my spot in this blog book, so I don't forget that this is what I do. I am so enjoying the return to wordcraft, but I fear that the slightest loss of vigilance will lead me back to the tongue-tied place I seem to have been in for so long. So I write this morning, having nothing to say, just to exercise the use of words. Just to undertake the discipline of thinking in an orderly fashion and crafting the rise and fall of a sentence, a paragraph, a complete thought expressed in typeset on a glowing screen in the quiet of my early morning.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

It's August in Virginia. I had forgotten how those subtle signs of the approach of Autumn send out little flashes of warning, even in the roasting heat of summer. It's coming... The Cold is coming... I'm alternately soaking up the last of the heat and dreaming of hot cocoa and snow forts.

One of my favorite things about growing up has been the slow, gradual realization of the truth that nothing ever stays the same. There have been times when this was a truth full of pain and regret, but as I"ve gotten older, I've begun to see that this constant flow of change is a Mercy. Yes, the beautiful babe in your arms is going to walk, talk, run, sass you, possibly reject you, leave you... But then, they will come back. Older and wiser. That relationship, while nothing like nursing a babe in arms, is its own kind of beautiful. Nothing stays the same.

Keeping this in my mind helps me view life as a flow of seasons. Whatever is now, will be different soon. Babies waking up at all hours of the night? Just a season. It won't last. Laundry finished, folded and put away? Enjoy it. There will be more tomorrow. I had a beach season in my life and it was lovely. Now it is mountain time. There have been seasons in my life (and will be again, I'm sure) when my house was constantly turned upside down, I could never find time to cook a decent meal and exercising was a distant memory. Again, a season. Don't try to hold onto any one of them too tightly, it won't help. The turn of the seasons is inexorable and unending.

The thing that really puts the cherry on top for this theory is remembering that these seasons aren't random events strung together without order, they are the deliberate plot points in the story that God is writing for my life. He's very carefully crafting the Beginning, Middle, Climax and End to each of these seasons of my life and I can rest in His storytelling, even in the midst of the most chaotic of seasons, because I know the Ending of the Story.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;  a time to kill, and a time to heal;a time to break down, and a time to build up;   a time to weep, and a time to laugh;a time to mourn, and a time to dance;   a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;   a time to seek, and a time to lose;a time to keep, and a time to cast away;a time to tear, and a time to sew;a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate;a time for war, and a time for peace.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


I"m sitting here starting to form the skeleton of our weekly school schedule. Trying to use the principle of the illustration of fitting rocks, pebbles, sand and water into a jar... Remember that old story? The problem is, I"m struggling a bit over categorizing our activities and such into rocks, pebbles, sand and water. Some things are obvious. I mean, Math is a Rock. No argument there. Music practice. Family devotions. Those things are obvious. The one I'm struggling with right now is Exercise for Mama. Lord knows I need it. I have always classed it in the pebble category-- less important than devotions or music or math, more important than laundry, yard work and playdates. This year, though, I will be going to the local YMCA for my exercise at least two days a week and boy! is it hard to sit here and look at my five day jar and trying to fit two 90 minute yoga class rocks into it. The space remaining around those giant rocks looks pretty small, folks. Pret-ty small. In addition, those rocks are black with disapproval from my boys, who hate the child care room at the Y with a mighty and enduring hatred.

But I know how important this is, even for my disapproving boys. Daily exercise, bolstered by weekly group exercise and encouragement is vital to my function as a mother. As a person! Somehow I have to "sell" this experience to them. I'm looking for ways to include some sort of school activity for Judah that he can complete on his own during that hour. Jamie is easier. He finds friends wherever he is and is still young enough that I don't begrudge a morning spent just playing.

Monday, August 24, 2015


I think this has happened every school year since Sofi was born, but once again my first week of blissful quiet between J leaving at 7 and the kids waking up at 7:30 has devolved, slowly but relentlessly, into the kids waking up at 5:45 and being sent repeatedly back to bed with various threats and remonstrations until I finally, reluctantly relent around 7:30 and feed them breakfast. Who can blog or have "quiet time" under those circumstances? I ask you! No one, that's who. It's like they have this Fun Radar that goes off in their brains; Warning! Warning! The parents are awake! They are Doing Things Without You! Alert! Alert!


Good grief.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Reasons why the boys couldn't go to sleep last night

My elbow hurts.

My arm itches.

My throat is scratchy.

My blanket smells stinky (that one was legit, I admit)

I had a creepy thought.

I'm too hot.

I need some COMPANY (three guesses which one said THAT?!)

And for "some reason," they're grouchy, tired and irritable this morning!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

First Day again

It's another first day of school. An old familiar place for us by now. The adrenaline buzz of new books and pencils and uniforms. The fluttery tummy, the same-but-different halls, the smell of floor wax and new paint, new faces, squeaky new shoes, new school. I feel happy-sad.

Happy, because ROUTINE! This is my favorite. Other than the THROWING OFF ROUTINE FOR FREEDOM of the end of school, of course. I like waking up before the boys, drinking coffee in quiet solitude, quiet time with my bible and my laptop, writing, easing myself into the day. I like knowing exactly what is coming next and where everyone will be at any given moment of the day. (Although that is perhaps more the theory than the reality of homeschooling life with little boys)

Sad, because new beginnings, as deliciously exciting as they may be, signal the end of things as well. Book Club, Girl's Night, Friday Playdates and Co-op, all still go on, of course (right, girls??), but without us. The routine that used to make up our old familiar First Days. Tucked away fondly in our memories, now wrapped in the golden glow of nostalgia.

So this first day of school is a First that reminds us of all those Lasts, so recently lived, and our adrenaline buzz and fluttery tummies cover a deeper melancholy of missing a different place and time, people... life. But our New, our Firsts this year are the exciting beginnings of a life in Virginia and this place is our Home. In time the new will become familiar and the routine we form here will, God willing, last us. At least until God calls us to another New...