Friday, August 30, 2013

Mommy's Moment: Here I Go Again

Minneapolis, Miami, Dallas, Memphis, Washington D.C., Kansas City, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Greensboro, Asheville, Statesboro, Cocoa Beach, New Orleans, Charleston...
Just a few cities on my list I've traveled to during my childhood.
And while each city possesses unique characteristics, they all share one thing, soccer.
At least for me.
Vacations and soccer. Like peanut butter and jelly for our family.
But, I never played soccer.
And yet, I've managed to attend more games than most non soccer players in cities all over the country.
My sisters, well, they were talented soccer players. And so, we traveled.
And memories were made.
We traveled on a tour bus to Minnesota. I listened to the Cocktail cassette on my Walkman while looking at the lights as we drove through St. Louis. It was in Minnesota I remember my mom talking to my late Grandma about seeing a doctor regarding Alzheimers.  On a brighter note my sister's team won the tournament. We had Subways as we pulled out of the parking lot after a late game to begin the LONG ride home. It was on the way home that the bus broke down. In the middle of the night. In the middle of nowhere. At a B.P. Station. A soccer ball is likely still sitting on the roof of that gas station.
We drove to Cocoa Beach, FL where my sister was at a soccer camp, ODP camp (Olympic Development Camp). Mom got us a surfer troll doll and surprised us with it on our beds at the hotel that was close to the beach. When I hear about Ron Jon's Surf Shop and shuffle boards I think of Cocoa Beach.
We stayed with old friends in Washington D.C who took us around the historical sites in between games. I remember the cobblestone streets in Alexandria. I also remember missing school for this one. Always a bonus. This tournament usually occurred around Columbus Day.
The pool at the hotel we stayed at in Memphis (we came here a few times I think) was an indoor/outdoor pool where you swim under the wall to get outside (or inside). It was the highlight of that tournament (for me at least).
In Miami I had the unfortunate experience of watching a overly tan man in a thong stretch in the middle of the beach. On a more positive note, I also bought my first cd, The Bodyguard soundtrack, in Miami. I also remember the bright colors of the art deco buildings.
Kansas City was hot.
So was New Orleans, and a bit shady. We quickly passed Bourbon Street.
Atlanta, well, it was almost like a second home then. Each Sunday during soccer season we drove to Atlanta so my sisters' team could play other girls' teams. There just weren't any at the time in Alabama. So yes, we drove to Atlanta. It became a very familiar drive. I remember the Top Hatters and Cobb Union. I remember a Marriott next to a Hooters. I remember riding home from Atlanta and having to go to the bathroom the WHOLE time. So when my kids say they can't hold it, I say, oh yes you can. I have. I did. And I totally get now why Dad didn't like to stop.
And in between these tournaments I remember steel bleachers, blankets sprawled out with My Little Ponies, Peanut Butter and Jelly books, playing "school" in the van, sunburns, cheering, squeezing three kids in the hotel bed, van rides, music (where I got my in depth exposure to all the great oldies), an icecream cone water bottle, continental breakfasts, soccer t shirts and pins, honeysuckles during practice and pizza and coke (the beginning of a beautiful friendship) after Friday night practices, just to name a few of the memories.
And after my sisters left for college, more games were attended as they both had successful college years playing soccer and then again when my oldest sister became the women's soccer coach for Georgia Southern.
It's only been in the past two years that the soccer excitement came to a complete stop.
Until, last Tuesday.

And this little guy picked up the baton.
Or shall I say, soccer ball?
And just like that, I find myself here again.
And here
And, as much as I complained about going to another soccer game, I enjoyed it. It was a big part of my childhood. And so to walk back onto a soccer field and become a spectator again was a little taste of home.
And so,
Here I go again.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Homeschool Diaries: First Day of School

Despite feeling a little unprepared, we jumped in and plunged deeply into school.

Hello 2nd grade. Hello Kindergarten. Hello very busy little Kate.


As I've said, this has been a busy summer and I wanted everything "perfect" for their first day of school. I wanted a perfect plan that proved fail proof. One that would ensure no more crying fits at the table. One that would inspire Hannah to read, read, read. One that would keep Kate busily occupied as the older two dig in. And one that promised an effective plan to include two school-aged children instead of one.

But, as the kids went to sleep last night and I took a crash course on their lessons for today, I realized perfection was far off.

And I was okay.

Can I repeat that?

I was okay.

It hit me that it's okay if today is a bit "messy." I mean, shouldn't it be when you bring in a new schedule, young kids, and, today, a toddler with a 104 degree fever? It would be silly for me to expect a plan to work perfectly. There's freedom in starting the school year expecting tweaks to be made all along the way. And, after today, tweaks will be made. I am not a slave to a "perfect" schedule. Freedom.

And so, we jumped.

And it started great. I want to make their first day special. Being at home, they miss out a bit on the "back to school" excitement and so I like to create a bit of that in our own home. I was so thankful it worked. I had a "back to school" surprise: a small water bottle, crayons, watercolors, pencil holders and cases and dry erase pencils. I was happy to hear Hannah exclaim: "This is the best back to school day ever!"


And to start the day I let them break in their watercolors and paint a self portrait. And while their portraits were, well, small, they had fun.

And then, the messiness that homeschooling can sometimes be, began.

Thankfully, some time in prayer this morning was a sweet reminder of my need for the Lord as we venture into another year. I do pray that the Lord would provide (as He promises) a way out when I'm tempted to respond poorly to my kids' frustrations. And as Proverbs 3:5-6 says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path." I often do not acknowledge Him when I'm frustrated and tempted to respond poorly and instead jump into what I think is right...but it is own sinful response to my kids. But it says when I do, when I turn my mind to Him and acknowlege Him and trust what He says, He will direct my paths. So my prayer this school year is that the Lord would bring this verse to my mind and equip me with the discipline and self control to stop, acknowledge Him and His ways and cling to the promise He will direct my path, one away from sinful selfishness and frustrations.

And that's a long sidenote. It seems homeschooling and parenting really bring out the worst in me and the Lord is using these as tools to refine me...and I'm a slow learner.

Hannah's first day was overall smooth. We had some speed bumps when she realized she had to do her math facts this year ON HER OWN while I worked with Grant. So, I pulled out some incentive for her to memorize them and complete her page in less than a minute. I don't know what the incentive will be, but she is on board and working those flashcards. I did not do well last year at making her memorize her facts and so that is a goal I set for us this year: to memorize all her facts and to be able to recite them quickly.

Her attitude was good overall. I am thankful. I think her attitude naturally feeds off of mine, another reason for me to hold my tongue more often and to grow in patience as she learns.

Grant's first day was relatively good as well. He's having a hard time with the fact he can't play Mario during school time. And he hates to write, a big problem when it comes to school. I had to explain that almost everything will require making some sort of "mark." And when we practiced, tears were shed. This will be an area I need a lot of grace and patience in. He still struggles to hold his pencil well. It's better than it was, but still a struggle. Other than this one major obstacle, he did well. He enjoyed his math and reading lessons.

And Kate, bless her. She woke up with a fever. It was last August all three came down with a high fever and kept us out of CC for two weeks. Over the course of three weeks we were stuck at home nursing fevers. Hannah's reached 106 degrees. I'm praying this is not a repeat of last summer. If you think about it, I'd appreciate your prayers there too. Kate's is high...104...but I think my kids just get high fevers. They act relatively fine. So today was mostly spent watching Dora on the tv and napping. My goal for her is to have activities for her to do independently in the morning during math time. My idea today bombed, but she also had a fever.

So, that's enough chatter. And if you've made it this far, you're a good friend. Ha! I'll leave you with a few pictures of our first day and of the little faces I am very thankful to get to spend my days with, even if it is very hard. They are a blessing and it's a priviledge to be able to teach them.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Music to Our Ears

When you can't breathe, life is tough.
It took a bad allergy flair up for Mommy to cave in and take me back to the ENT, the one we visited when I was three.
Since then I've lived for
TWO LONG YEARS of nasal inflammation.
And it seems my nasal passages were completely, completely closed.
No air moving in, no air moving out.
I'll admit, it wasn't always that bad, but thanks to something in the air the night before, my nose was, well, unusable.
Mommy felt bad.
Real bad.
So with some serious steroids (don't worry, not the beef you up kind), Claritin, and Flonase I was excited to announce:
"Mommy, listen to this..." as I inhaled and exhaled several times. "Do you hear the air?"
It was music to our ears.
Nose music.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Fun Loving Gal

I'm a fun loving gal.
So when Mommy agreed to mismatched princess heels, my favorite plastic puppy, a dress stained with orange Fanta, and a hairstyle that was free flowing, I was estatic.
Sure, I may have been mistaken for an orphan, but hey, this is me, a beautiful mess.
And may I brag on my pup?
He was so well behaved at Kirklands, a little noisy, but well behaved.
Obviously he's been trained by Ceasar Milan.
Notice how he manages to walk behind me? He knows I'm the pack leader.
Molly could use some pointers here.

However, like any good looking pair of heels, they can begin to hurt. So, upon entering Hobby Lobby (our next destination), I did what any three year old kid who rides in a van with other siblings does, I swapped them out for another pair of shoes. We all know the van is a great place for storing shoes.
This is what I came up with: faded purple boots. And while it looks as though pup is going to stay behind on this trip, think again. I'm not getting charged with cruelty to animals. But in all seriousness, he would have been better behaved in the van on this trip. Upon entering Hobby Lobby he made quite a scene when he would not walk correctly, and, consequently, so did I.
I could have been mistaken for one of those brats on Toddlers and Tiaras. There's nothing like having one of your own put you in your own bad mood.
After Mommy sternly reigned me back in so did I to my pup...all the way in to Mommy's purse.
So for the rest of our visit I managed to wind down with a little dancing to the Hobby Lobby music in my purple rain boots, stained Fanta dress, wild hair, and uninhibited style.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Mommy's Moment: Busyness, Summer, and Sin

Here I sit at the precipice of a new school year.

Though public school kicks into gear tomorrow, our homeschool will begin in two weeks. But, nonetheless, the next two weeks will be spent in major preparation for the school year.

So, we say goodbye to a very full summer. Full of change, full of quick trips, full of swimming, full of friends, full of life and full of struggle.

This past summer marks the busiest of my adult life.

In fact, it seems as though I never quite caught my breath. It seems one quick trip with John bled into a busy week at a Classical Conversations practicum which turned into a Yurt excursion just before our several trips to the swimming pool while rearranging four rooms that ended with meetings for Classical Conversations followed by another quick trip to a lake that merged into a quick trip home as my mom wrestled with some health issues (all is well, praise the Lord) where I returned to take part in the tearing up of carpet and laying down of hardwood just before we had guests from Thailand come and stay with us (so encouraged to have them) right before our Classical Conversations community begins to ramp up with Open House meetings and the first day of school and all the while dealing with the everyday life of just living with three kids while John has stayed amazingly busy (praise the Lord) trying to keep up with the abundance of work that the Lord has provided.

And just as that sentence found no good place to stop, so did our summer. One week quickly melted into another until finally, here I sit trying to gather myself and reflect on "what just happened?"

And I realize many people live busy lives, much busier than our's. But I'm never a fan of busy. And perhaps it's because I found that in the "busy-ness" of our summer I became extremely irritated at my kids as they couldn't keep up with rush of life. I lost my cool several times this summer because shoes weren't on the feet fast enough or someone accidentally let Molly out which turned into a "Catch Me if You Can," game. Or hearts needed tending to or discipline rendered. It all got in the way of plans, plans, plans. I didn't like it. And in turn, I responded poorly. While this summer was full of busy, it was also full of sin, my sin.

It's a kind of summer where I've seen that I am more sinful than I dared imagine. My heart is selfish. I've had to go to my kids a lot to apologize for being unkind, hasty, inconsiderate, just plain mean. If you want to see your sin, have kids. Have a few. Put them all in the back seat of your vehicle and drive several hours somewhere. Then, tell me what you're thinking and feeling.

As a mom, I've been desperate this summer. Desperate for the Lord. And while I haven't always been diligent in seeking the Lord, I know that my desperation heightens my understanding of how much I need Him, that I can't do it on my own. There are days my kids need protection from ME, from my sinful nature and responses, whether it's through an unkind word or harsh tone. My only Hope is Jesus.

And I was reminded this morning by a timely sermon that this is a GOOD place to be, in a place of desperation where you know your only Hope is the Lord. If I don't realize my heart is sinful and prone to wander then I don't realize my great need for Christ, who alone rescues me from that sin and through His Holy Spirit enables me to fight it.

And while I am not a proponent of "busy-ness" I know that as a homeschooling mom of three, I will be busy. And I can't continue in my sinful pattern of irritability and frustration. It's dishonoring to the Lord, to my husband, to my kids. And so as I reflect on lessons I'm learning this summer I realize that 1) I want to be busy with the right things and only a few things 2) I want to be desperate for my Lord in the midst of those things 3)I want to seek Him daily for His strength to fight the sin that I am prone to in those things.

And I know I will fail. But the greatest news is my Lord did not. Praise the Lord it is Christ's perfect obedience that saves me. And that when I fail, I can come to Him freely to repent and I know that I am forgiven because it is not my works that save or my lack thereof that now condemn me. Jesus is mine and His perfection is now my perfection. He took my wrath for my sin and suffered it for me.

Hallelujah! May THAT be what overflows into the lives of those around me.

More of Him and less of me.