Friday, June 30, 2006

The Countdown Begins!

In a very short 24 hours, we should be at the airport waiting for our flight. I'm still working on the packing, finishing up laundry, my mom is on her way here with the girls and the rest of their stuff... I'm not feeling so great, as usual. This happens every vacation. I probably have some sort of sinus infection or something, but I'm just not interested in going to the doctor. Hopefully it's nothing more major. I'd love to take a long nap, but I must pack and clean. Curves? Not sure that's in my schedule today, but I'll try. I'll hopefully be able to take the girls to the pool when they get here. Get them out of my mother's hair for a bit!

The weather is fairly nice - no more rain for now. It's supposed to be hot in L.A.. I have no idea if that is hot like here - humid, or hot and dry. I'm hoping for the later. I don't remember much about L.A. or California. I think we are all a bit apprehensive. It just seems so far but at least we have Disneyland to look forward to - I'm such a Disney freak. The new Pirates of the Caribbean ride is open and the movie will come out on our last day there. Should make for an exciting trip!!

You all have fun back at home now!! LOL

Thursday, June 29, 2006

How Connecticut Are You?

T passed along this funny quiz for me to take. I must be too long out of Connecticut, because I only got 87%!! Just a warning, if you choose to take this Connecticut college student's quiz, be prepared for some colorful language - not a lot, but I'm just warning you! My favorite question was the one about minorities - that was totally me! Oh yeah, and Bridgeport being a place you'd least like to visit - I lived about 5 minutes away from it! Oh, and the one about how "poor" you were living off your parents salaries - LOL!! Anyway, enjoy!


Well, it'll be 2 days and we're off for sunny California. That will be a nice break from this week of floods and rain! I've had this whole week to get organized, relax (after that weekend!) and clean. I can't say that I've been overly productive. The truth is, I hardly know what to do with myself!!

Today I'm going to run a bunch of errands - drop stuff off and pick stuff up at church, get a backpack, get fingerprinted, possibly make it to Curves again and hopefully later go for a swim. We did that last night and I really enjoyed it, until the clouds rolled in. I love swimming - more than any other form of exercise. I wish I could do it year round - maybe next year!

I am very excited to go away, but also very nervous. I really want the girls to have a good time, I want my mom to enjoy a vacation, I want T to not have to do everything he has on his list - it's just too long for someone who is supposed to be on vacation. I'd love to spend a day or two just sitting on the beach without a care in the world. I'm not sure that will happen, but maybe an afternoon!?!

I guess what I really want is just a safe trip and no one to get sick. Those are my two biggest fears right now. I'm not even worried all that much about the food we'll have to eat - while totally different from what we are used to. My aunt and uncle have very particular taste in food. Luckily, in the U.S., there is a Mcdonald's on every corner, so the girls will not starve! Getting sick, though....

Well, enough of my rambling. Oh, and no earthquakes - that would definitely be bad. In case no one else was paying attention these last couple of weeks in the news: The L.A. area is all set for the "big one" and they just closed down a port in southern CA due to terror threats. No biggie - just the biggest natural disaster being imminent and we'll be in a bomb target zone. Again, no biggie!! (LOL!)

Happy 4th of July to you all!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Things I Learned on a Middle/High School Retreat

So, this past weekend hanging out with middle/high school kids I learned a few things. Of course this always makes me feel like I'm so out of touch. I mean, how could I miss these things??? Being a middle aged stay-at-home mom does that to us!

1. Modest bathing suit - that would consist of the tiniest string bikini with a see-through white T-shirt over it. Thank goodness! there were thunderstorms!!!

2. Oreos are better than Chips Ahoy - not sure why, but they were hands down much more popular this weekend!

3. "Help in the Kitchen" means "Eat whatever you want while you flirt with everyone of the opposite sex" - actually, this only happened with the guys - the girls were a huge help!

4. Big baggy athletic shorts are in, of course mixed with string bikini tops - you won't see me trying that anytime soon!! (and be so glad that one didn't stick with me - it would just be pathetic and scary all at the same time!)

5. SAT's now go up to like 2600 points or something crazy like that. Now my SAT score looks even more pathetic than when I was in high school!! Sad!

6. Howard County (as I'm sure many other United States school districts) really need to step up to the plate when it comes to teaching spelling - these kids can't spell for beans!!! NO MORE INVENTIVE PHONETIC SPELLING PLEASE!!! You are making these kids look like uneducated idiots (sorry guys, but I'm doing this for you!)!

7. Teenagers today can be very polite - I'm totally serious! and they want to change their world. Case in point: getting kids to talk about "what they learned" was not really working, but when we had 10 meatball subs left over and decided to take them down to the fishing pier - more than 10 kids wanted to GO!! and they loved it. It was spontaneous, simple service and they were all about that. Give them something tangible to do!

8. Forcing people to do things out of their comfort zone teaches them that sometimes what they THINK is not in their comfort zone is really something they LOVE!! I cannot tell you how many adults and kids came back with stories about doing something on the boardwalk they were not comfortable with but then found out it was fun, that it felt good and they couldn't wait to do it again.

9. God can do good things for us in a storm. T was so disappointed that it stormed and rained all night. It completely ruined his plans for the morning and when we left he felt that it was a complete wash out. Then I reminded him how we were the last ones allowed to pass through that water. If we'd left a minute later instead of 20 minutes earlier than scheduled, the whole group would have been stranded at the beach! God had a reason for the weekend ending the way it did!

10. The new word I learned was "chillaxin" - and that's what I did today. More rain, nowhere to go, nothing to do but try to get ready for our vacation.... I like that word!

Wonderfully Wet Weekend!

Well, it's been a while since I posted. Sorry for the little blog lull. Last week was super busy with get togethers, travel and the Mission Advance week at the beach where I planned and executed (with thankfully some help!) the food for all 50 participants. What an experience.

The girls are at my mom's, who graciously accepted them as her guests, even though Thursday was her last day of school! They are both there right now and I am supposed to be getting ready for our L.A. departure this Saturday. Instead, I'm blogging! Oops!

After driving them up to CT last week and helping my mom move her classroom (for the third year in a row!), I came back here late Thursday, packed the van for a Friday departure to Cape Henlopen with a van full of food and kitchen supplies and three teenage girls.

Highlights of my weekend - having God send me the perfect food helpers - thanks Michelle!!!, having the kids actually like the food for the most part - no one starved, watching the kids worship, seeing the teams click and watching T do what he does best and love it. It was exhausting, stressful, crazy and fun all at the same time.

Downlights of our weekend - the walk to the bathhouse in the middle of the night in my pajamas when I was sick, the second trip to the bathhouse in my pajamas in the middle of the night in the rain - sent T to get his truck for that one! and the ride home, when we waited over an hour to go 4 miles so we could take turns driving through 3 feet of water... More on that flooding here. Of course, it was me, the adult, who could no longer wait to go to the bathroom.... I won't tell you what I did, but it was slightly embarrassing as we had two cars, six teens and me and T. My only consolation - all the other people in front of us who couldn't wait. The woods, side of the road and various buildings got a lot of use that day!! Incidentally, we were in the last group of cars allowed to pass through that water. Had we waited any longer at the beach or even had the nice weather T had planned for, it might have taken us more than 5 hours to get home!!

I am really tired right now and fortunately have an empty house to organize for our trip. I'm not sure if I'm heading up to CT this week or not, so I need to get to work. It's a nice, quiet day to reflect on what just happened and what stands out in my mind right now is Saturday night worship....

If you have never watched a group of middle and high school kids with their dedicated missions trip leaders worship together you are just not ready for heaven. It was honestly the most moving thing I've seen this year. These kids give all their hearts in worship, they support each other in prayer, they know how to make a joyful noise, and God is so much a part of who they are. It was so refreshing to watch and participate in. If you have kids like this in your area, find them and learn from them - you won't be disappointed!!

Now, for a little R&R for our family - we're getting ready for our California Adventure. I'm going to make T take a break from life for this one, so you might not see him for a while. He totally deserves it!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day!

I would like to wish all the dads out there a very happy father's day! This is a wish from a daughter who was deeply loved by a daddy for 33 years, who wanted nothing more than to make her daddy proud, who misses her daddy tremendously. This is also from a daughter of God, who is now hosting my daddy in His house of many rooms, who loves His daughter despite my many shortcomings. Being a daughter of a great dad requires much humility.

A couple weeks ago, I came across a letter I had written to my dad about 2 months before he died. I had no idea he was going to die when I wrote it, but I also did not have much hope that he would live much longer. On my way to CT to deliver this letter and visit for Em's second birthday, Em got sick in the car. I was almost half way and I had to pull over and call my father to tell him that we wouldn't be coming. That was one of the most difficult phone calls I ever had to make, and to this day I always feel a wave of grief when I remember it.

My dad at that point was very sick. His stem cell transplant had not worked, he had lymphoma tumors taking over every part of his body, Christmas had been very taxing on him and I had been surprised that when I talked to him on the phone the day before we were to drive up he was vacuuming the house! He actually sounded excited that we were going to visit. It was definitely the most upbeat conversation I'd had with him in weeks, and we talked almost everyday. He loved his granddaughters and was so excited to celebrate Em's birthday with us.

As I pulled off the highway and into a parking lot, I just knew I'd be breaking his heart more than mine was split. As I explained what was going on, he agreed that there was no way I could march a toddler with a virus up to his germ free zone - even if it was for her birthday! His body just could not survive that kind of invasion, especially in the dead of winter. So, I turned around and drove home, where I spent the rest of the afternoon laying next to my sick daughter, who by that time had a fever and was vomiting nearly every half hour. Even the thought that I'd at least not returned home for nothing didn't help the anger I felt toward God to taking away what would have been my last fun and exciting weekend with my father. I really felt for the longest time like something was stolen from us. At least, God, could You have given us one last wonderful weekend?

It was only a week later that I called my dad one morning to find him very ill, disoriented, dehydrated and alone. I spent all morning locating my mother and brother and convincing them that my dad needed to be in the hospital. You see, none of us wanted to see what was right in front of us - my father was dying. I can remember looking at pictures from Christmas that we picked up after he did pass away and thinking to myself, "How could we not see that he was dying? Why wasn't it obvious to us?"

That was his last day home and the beginning of a 6 week hospital stay. We held out hope until the very end that we might be the recipients of a miracle, but that was not the case for us - at least not a medical miracle. When I came up I brought him my letter and a poster the girls and I had made with picture of all of us. He asked that we hang it behind him, I think so he wouldn't have to look at it and all the memories he'd be leaving behind. Along with my letter I left him a little Inspirational book by Max Lucado.

Later, when my dad was in a coma in a hospice suite, I found that book with my letter folded up inside. Inside the book my father outlined the misery and pain that had enfolded his life. It was written not as a diary of sorts, but as a prayer. He left it in a section of the book entitled "Heaven". In my letter to him, I'd written what every child should tell their parent - exactly what he taught me, what I learned from him, what he meant to me and my family and how proud I was to be his daughter. Each time I read that letter, I am humbled and reminded why God "took away" that weekend from me.

That was one letter that didn't end up in the top drawer of his dresser in a book that my father never opened. It was a letter he got to read anytime he needed to know that he was loved and that his life on earth made a difference, it mattered. That book provided the promises of God my father needed to be reminded of, the last of which was that heaven is our home and Christ is waiting there to welcome us with open arms. It was a book and letter than ushered my father to his eternal home - and if you really want to know what a miracle is, it is that Christ loved us enough to make a way for us to be with Him forever.

I don't really know why my father had to leave us and of course I wish God hadn't taken him so soon. I'm not mad anymore, though, that I lost that weekend. I can see now that God had a few loose ends to take care of with my dad before He brought him home, and how He used us to help with that. The miracle for me is that someday I'll be with my father again, and that is a promise. I will have more fathers days with him than I will have without him only because my heavenly Father has provided a way for that.

Thank you, God, for a wonderful earthly example of a father. Thank you for taking care of my daddy and for providing a way for me to see him again. I really miss him, and You understand that better than anyone on earth. You are my Everlasting Father, my Prince of Peace. Amen.

Friday, June 16, 2006

My Little Camper!

Today was Em's final day of Nature Camp, and I'm happy to say that she loved it!! She was really upset that it was her last day and asked if I could send her again next summer. Today was a hike to a nearby park/reservoir where the campers went on a short nature walk and went fishing. Then the families arrived for a picnic lunch before we all left. Em had a super time and now wants to go fishing again, mostly because she didn't catch anything and really, really wants to!

As for the mom I spoke of yesterday, she was there. She brought her daughter along. I said nothing to her or her daughter. It was a little strange. Even with all the competition that goes on among parents, I've never heard of anything quite as outlandish as that - and I hope I never do again.

Now my girls are mine for the summer, so the first thing we are going to do is pack them up and ship them off to Granny and Grandpa's!! We actually took them out for dinner last night to celebrate. It will be nice to sleep in a bit, go to the pool, meet up with friends and not have a lick of homework to think about for a while. I, for one, am thrilled with that! We might even be able to get a little fishing in there!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

What Would You Do??

I had to strangest thing happen to me today. I arrived early to pick up Em at her camp today and ran into a parent who has her youngest child in Em's class and her middle daughter was in preschool with Kt. I asked her if her older daughter was finishing up second grade as Kt did today. She replied with this long story about her daughter is soooo smart that she skipped a grade. She apparently tested out of math and reading and they keep sending her ahead because she's just brilliant. Today, she supposedly finished fourth grade!!

Now, my wheels were turning at this point. We specifically held Kt back because we felt socially and emotionally she needed to be with kids more her age. At the time, the cut off birthdate was still December 31 and her birthday was December 31. Having been a first grade teacher, I knew firsthand how older young children (K-1st grade) can be very advanced academically and sometimes even socially, but when they later get to second or third grade, things begin to catch up with them, and in high school, they have friends who are all driving, allowed to date, etc. We just wanted her to be the older crowd, not the younger, and in our county she has benefited from advanced classes within her grade, so we weren't holding her back academically at all.

I wondered, when this mom was telling me how amazingly smart her little girl was, would I want my 7/8 year old with fourth graders?? Would I want my 9 year old heading off to middle school??? It struck me as odd, but I didn't ask any of these questions. I just let it slide and mentioned how Kt was just finishing up second grade. She then went on to tell me that her youngest, in Em's class, was also brilliant, that she would checking into getting her into a K-1st grade combination class because she already knows all her multiplication facts!! I'm thankful I didn't have to scrape my jaw off the floor in front of her!! I'm lucky if I can get Em to count to 20 for me, forget about multiplication!! Wow - I didn't know whether to be impressed or completely confused. I mean, I've never heard of a "combination class" outside of private schools around here, certainly not in our county public schools.

So, the story get worse from here. Later today I took the girls to the pool where I saw another mom from Kt's preschool. She and I see each other at Curves occasionally, so we keep in touch a bit. I also knew that her daughter and the girl from above go to the same elementary school. Of course, more out of marvel than anything else, I asked this mom if she remembered this girl. She did, and then mentioned to me that she was in her daughter's second grade class this year. I must have turned white because she gave a funny look and asked why? I'm not really sure what I said at that point, but I told her what had just happened and she said she was not surprised, that this mom lives in a "grandiose world." I was thinking more like a hallucinogenic world! I never even suspected that she was not being honest with me!!

I must say, I've never had such a strange thing happen to me as a mother flat out lying to my face about how amazing their child is. Why would anyone do that? This woman did not miss a beat when she was talking to me, she never flinched, totally matter-of-fact with me. And today, on her daughter's last day of second grade. I am thinking there might be some kind of mental illness. Of course, we were the only two parents there until my other friend arrived. I can't remember how much of the conversation she overheard. But I guess this mom could always claim that she never said it.

Which brings me to my dilemma. Tomorrow is Em's last day at camp. It culminates with a family picnic, to which all the siblings are invited. I'm wondering if this woman will bring her second grade daughter who just finished "fourth grade" and knows Kt. What do I say? or do? How do I even act knowing what I now know?? Or do I just avoid her altogether? I have no interest in "exposing" anyone or even embarrassing her or her daughter, so I'm guessing I'll likely just avoid her altogether, but that just seems so unsocial. What would you do?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

How To Prepare Children for Africa

T has been filling in the blanks for our girls on life in Africa. Of course, he's only doing this with information that he has read, not from first-hand experience!! He talks about living on a dollar a day, having only rice and beans to eat and no toilets. I don't know how much of it sinks in, but at least for Kt, who really does want to go to Africa someday, she's taken it to heart.

This evening she came running downstairs to tell us she had just taken a cold shower. She was VERY excited about it and made us both come into the bathroom to see where she had left the dial on the cold side. I'm sure some of her excitement was sheer adrenalin. When asked why she did this, she replied, "I wanted to see what it was like for the people in Cameroon!" I reminded her that there was likely no air conditioning for the people in Cameroon either, while she stood there, wrapped head to toe in a towel, shivering.

Maybe tomorrow for dinner we'll have rice and beans? And I'll send T off to work on his bike with $1!! I wonder how that will go over??

Monday, June 12, 2006

Teaching Reading

As I've been contemplating going back to school to get my masters in Teaching Reading, I am also currently trying to figure out just what is going on at Kt's school for reading. It's been so confusing, so disorganized, so much misinformation.... is reading really that complicated or difficult??

Kt is a great reader, but certainly not at the tippy top of her class. When she was promoted from Kindergarten to first grade, she was placed in a class as an "Early D" reader. As a parent, that means little to me, as no one at her school has bothered to explain what that means. So, when the teacher called up the first Friday to let me know that she "assessed" Kt because she stood out in the class as a student who seemed farther along than the others - a.k.a., she would be easy to move to make the numbers even. In fact, during our little conference with this teacher and the school administrators over this change, it came out that only the 36 new students were assessed, and then they chose 7 returning students to test and Kt was the lone, lucky student who would get to "skip" 7 reading levels - miraculously, she was really a K or beyond. (Every student is supposed to be assessed at the beginning of each year - but they just didn't have time!?)

Now, we were a little stunned by this, as we had done very little reading with her over the summer. We had serious concerns about her skipping skills, decoding especially, and being able to keep up and catch up with others. We were assured that she would not miss any skills, nor would she have any trouble. But this did require, of course, her moving from a classroom with a wonderful teacher (who she had already grown to love!) and all her friends to a room with only a couple of students she even knew and only one friend. I was told by the teacher who tested and moved her that "social considerations are the least of our concerns" - as a teacher, I did not receive this news very well!! I was also told that in assessing students, if they get a 95% or above on an assessment, she would interpret that as a student who has most likely mastered all the skills taught at that level and they should be tested for higher levels.

So, here we are in second grade. Kt was placed in second grade as a late level second grade reader on level "M." She is finishing this year as an "N" - and while I know little about how they assess or choose to move levels - even though several people have explained it several different ways - I am thinking something is not right!! So, we finally decided to meet with the principal about Kt's placement for next year. I don't want a repeat of what happened in first grade and she seems much farther along than the Magic School Bus book she has been reading for a month! Kt has also spent the year in a reading group comprised of half her class (11 students), half of whom were in that first grade class she was moved out of!

Today the reading teacher called me. She assessed Kt today and basically confirmed what I've been saying all along. She first said that Kt tested 99% on level O (she has not read one book this year at that level) and got 4/4 on the comprehension questions. She then tested her at level P (which is end of the year third grade level) and she got a 97% and 4/4 on the comprehension. She also mentioned that Kt is fluent, conversational in her reading BUT she fumbles on the small sight words (the ones that they teach you by rote in levels D-J perhaps!!!) while easily reading longer, higher level vocabulary words. When I explained why that bothered me, i.e. that we were worried in first grade that she would miss important skills - that particular concern of smaller words having been mentioned!, the reading teacher then poo-pooed it like it was not a big deal. Don't want to get any friends in trouble now, do we?

I'm being sarcastic, but really, what bothered me the most about our traumatic classroom switch in first grade was the idea that I was not doing what was in my child's best interest by possibly holding her back in reading - that somehow, this teacher, who had known my daughter for 4 days, automatically knew what was best for my daughter more than I did. Only complicating this was the fact that I used to teach first grade, and I had a pretty good idea what kind of reader my daughter was. That, of course, meant little to these folks!!

Funny, though, that this time, they don't really want to send my daughter on ahead of where she should be. They are thinking it might be best to keep her at end of third grade level. I guess their numbers don't work if we move her up? Or maybe that would just admitting that Kt wasn't where she should have been all year, that we were right at all of our parent teacher conferences and her teacher failed to take us seriously?? I don't know, but what I do know is that this reading assessment stuff is just so tricky, and it makes no sense.

So, why do I even want to bother to get my masters in teaching reading?? Well, I can tell you this, it has nothing to do with wanting to know what I'm talking about. No one at Kt's school can give me a similar explanation about why they do what they do and what it means!! I also am not doing this so I can enter this crazy politicized system of education in our county - it is clear to me that it's just too contradictory and confusing. I think what I'd love to do is be able to instruct my own children better - then I guess I should have started this a long time ago!! *rolls eyes*

And for Kt next year?? Well, I think we are all in agreement at this point that skipping a bunch of reading levels isn't going to solve anything, so we'll keep her at end of third grade level and not bump her up to fourth. Hopefully, she'll do well, be happy, and become a super reader who enjoys what she reads. And then maybe we can become parents who aren't so involved and pushy with the school. I know they just want us to leave them alone! I know it! ;-)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Heading North!

Tomorrow I'm going to take Em up to Connecticut. If I had thought this through better, remembering that somewhere along the way T has decided to work from home, I could have gone alone!! But this way, we can stay until Monday.

We are heading up for A's graduation party, and to make the event even sweeter, she'll be going to Gordon College!! A girl after my own heart!! I am so excited for her. Even after spending the last 14 years or so here working with high school students, I've never been able to convince any of them to try Gordon. I am so excited that someone so important to me will get the chance to go to a great Christian college.

I really do wish T and Kt were coming along. Instead, it'll be a little time for Em and I. Of course, we spend a lot of time together already, but it will be nice for her to have Mom all to herself - I mean my mom! I think that's important for second children.

Oh, yeah, and I decided to work at Mother's Day Out one day a week next year. That works for me since I still haven't a clue where we'll send Em for kindergarten. So many decisions, so little time!

Why Men are Happier

I got this hysterical email from my mom. I wish I knew who wrote it, because it is so funny!! (sorry about the blogger issues - I am having several of them today!!!!)

Men Are Just Happier People 
What do you expect from such simple creatures? Your last name stays put.
The garage is all yours. Wedding plans take care of themselves.
Chocolate is just another snack. You can be President. You can never
get pregnant. You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park. Hell,
you can wear NO shirt to a water park.
Car mechanics tell you the truth. The world is your urinal. You
never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this
one is just too icky. You don't have to stop and think of which
way to turn a nut on a bolt. Same work, more pay. Wrinkles add
character. Wedding dress: $5000.00. Tux rental: $100.00. People
never stare at your chest when you're talking to them. The
occasional well-rendered belch is not only appreciated by your
friends, but practically expected. New shoes don't cut, blister,
or mangle your feet. One mood all the time. Phone conversations
are over in 30 seconds flat. You know stuff about tanks.
A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase. You can open all
your own jars. You get extra credit for the slightest act of
thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can
still be your friend. Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack.
Three pairs of shoes are more than enough. You almost never have
strap problems in public. You are unable to see wrinkles in your
Everything on your face stays its original color. The same hairstyle
lasts for years, maybe decades. You only have to shave your face
and neck. You can play with toys all your life. Your belly usually
hides your big hips. One wallet and one pair of shoes one color for
all seasons. You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look. You
can "do" your nails with a pocket knife. You have freedom of choice
concerning growing a mustache. You can do Christmas shopping for 25
relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.
No wonder men are happier. Send this to the women who can handle it
and to the men who will enjoy reading it.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

So Let's Talk About Feeling a Little Older...

It's starting to occur to me that I am also getting older. It's not just those cute little kids all around me that are growing up, driving, graduating, getting married.... I am also growing older. Having an almost 3rd grader is OK, having two girls in school is a little scary, but I just had one of my "little" cousins (they are really my cousins' children) graduate college!! and another graduate high school. The one who graduated college? Well, when T and I first got married, and moved into a townhouse 4 doors away from him, we watched him walk to elementary school each morning! Crazy, but they do grow up!

Now, I've been watching my cousin's children grow up as they are all around me. It's been fun and a great learning experience for me, watching my four cousins go through life, broken marriages (not so fun!), having babies (loads of fun), raising teenagers (not so fun all the time, but sometimes!) and putting their kids through college (won't even go there), watching their grown boys head off to Iraq (scary, but proud) and one of them even getting married! It's starting to make me feel older.

Last week I received the graduation announcement for the little 2 year old that I used to babysit for when I was in college. I came home for the summer and my father, who was only happy when his kids were working every waking moment of summer vacation to help pay for college!, kept shoving "help wanted" ads in my face. I was already working for my former employers, doing office management/bookkeeping, but that was not enough! I found an ad for help babysitting 1 child while her mom worked evenings at a restaurant. Sounded perfect, and it was, sort of!! I went for a visit and found a single mom, struggling to keep a house and raise a beautiful little girl. After talking for a bit, she shared with me that she had gotten married at the church we went to but was now divorced. She later told me that she was a little concerned about me being overly religious, but how bad could a church girl be??

I ended up spending a lot of time with these two all summer, and when I returned each vacation or summer. V, the mom, ended up becoming MORE "religious" than me! She found a wonderful man, settled on a medical malpractice suit that stemmed from the delivery of this beautiful little girl that left her unable to work much at all, and sent her daughter to the local Christian school. Just last week, I got the announcement that her daughter is graduating high school.

I have never felt older than when I got that card, because I know that these two taught me a lot about life. From them, I've learned how easy my life really was, how we can trust God to provide even when we have little hope, how important it is to reach out to others and help those in need. Each of us is an extension of Christ, His church, and what we do for others needs to be a reflection of what He wants to be for them. I also learned through my parents example how to support my children when they meet folks who need help. When I went off to college and there were no others to help with A, my parents babysat. They brought dinner. They bought groceries. They paid some bills. And last Saturday, my mom went to A's graduation - and I'm glad she did. Because, in many ways, A wouldn't have made it to that time and place without them, at least that's how I see it. We were links in a chain, we answered a call and we get to see some of the fruit.

This is a good kind of older I'm feeling - like I've learned something important, like I'm ready to learn more. I don't know who else God will send my way, but I want to be ready for more V's and A's. I want more weddings, graduations, and eventually I want to see all of them with little children. I can't wait!


I was totally laughing when I read this post on Steve Addison's blog - it's so, so true! What great insight.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Room Mother Mania

I'm not quite this busy, but I was rolling on the floor laughing at the this article on the last couple weeks of room mother craziness. Pretty much this whole week is tied up in room mother related and end of the school year related activities. Why I added preschool camp to the mix is beyond me!! Unfortunately, for me, I only have 2/5 of Kt's class contributing to a gift. It's been a not so great year I guess, which only adds to the stress. Then the last minute teacher request of, "Can you sent in 50 cups/napkins and 100 cookies?" by today.... the list goes on and on and on. I still have to get gifts for: 2 other teachers, Em's preschool teacher, the bus driver who I "won" earlier in the year... So, when people ask me if I'm "ready" for school to be out, they should be surprised at my overwhelming "YES!!!" answer. I love having my girls home, going to the pool, going on vacation and having the freedom to just pack up and go. Not to mention - no more field trips, no more school lunches to pack, and no more getting up and getting everyone ready. For a little while anyway!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Pool Party!!

Today was Kt's Brownie troop pool party. It was great fun! One of the families hosted it at their posh backyard retreat center, complete with an inground heated pool with plenty of seating, covered patio with, again, plenty of seating, and a backyard playground built by themselves. "He" is a Capital Police officer/commander/captain or something like that! I guess he does all this in his spare time?!? Anyway, it was a great party until Em threw up. Then it wasn't so fun anymore. Now we are home, sick again, cancelled our babysitter so no movie or night out tonight. Just, once again, taking care of sick children... This is getting old!

Friday, June 02, 2006

A long week....

I cannot even remember when I posted last and what I wrote about! This week has been sort of long, sort of busy but finally over. My job as room parent has taken over once again. Trying to organize a class gift - not having much success. Then got a note yesterday that I need to round up 50 cups and napkins and 100 peanut free cookies for Tuesday! Next year, when the request for a room parent comes around I'm hiding under a rock!

I've had a bunch of ideas of things to write about, but none of them come to mind right now. Blogger's block I guess. We have a somewhat quiet weekend ahead, one pool party. I can handle that! Then next week is another week of running around. I cannot wait until school is over - I'm looking forward to sleeping in a bit more (if that is possible!) and going to the pool when it's warm out!

Now, off to relax a bit. More later!