Sep 23, 2012

Still Here

Say what?  It's the end of September and I haven't posted since August?!  I must have been overly busy or something.  Yep.  That's me above.  I haven't died or anything. Still around, just busy. I just thought I would take a picture today of the momentous occasion of my hair actually cooperating.  Like all day.  As in, I blow dried it this morning and this pic was taken at 4pm still looking decent.  You have NO idea how incredible this is for a curly haired girl like me.  Picture worthy in fact.  Documented so I know it's actually possible.
Sooooo,
How is it going on the homefront over here?
Well, we are slowly falling into a pattern.  I wake up a 5:45 each day and get myself ready, lay out the kid's clothes and make their breakfast, make my own lunch, load the car with backpacks and the inevitable papers I've been bringing home.  Then I get them up with about 20 minutes to spare. If Tone isn't home, I quickly run Tess across the street to her daycare (super handy - I thank God for this blessing and the fantastic family she stays with daily). The kids usually don't want to get up so I let them sleep as long as possible and let them eat in the car on the way to school.  We have a half hour drive so there's pleeeeenty of time lets just say.  I don't have to make lunch since one benefit of working at a school where the kids are under-priviledged is that the whole school is on free lunch and breakfast.  Breakfast we found isn't worth it, but saving on lunches is fantastic.  Also, it's a uniform school so we grab clothes from a bin holding their uniforms.  Basically, I just have to make sure there is something in there that is clean.  I realize that sounds easy but that involves doing laundry.  Usually, this is done by my rockstar husband since I'm just a fat failure at this whole laundry thing.
I've been trying to leave for home before 4pm everyday, and that's been a challenge but my commitment is to my family first, so I'm getting better at being streamlined and finishing all work by then.  There will always be something to do so I am learning that I must just leave it.  It's an exercise in making priorities true priorities.  It takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to pick up all three kids and get in the house at the end of the day.  I really hate getting home at almost 5, but that's been a reality.  Then we do the homework, dinner and bedtime routine and that's about all the time we have.  I am trying to make small special moments with my kids in the evenings.  One night we made homemade pizza.  I am so thankful for that half hour drive to and from school. It lets me connect with them for an hour each day just in conversation.
I am learning that my kids don't need me to do special projects and activities with them.  They are tired from the day as well and somebody else has already stimulated them all day.  Instead they just want a piece of ME.  Whatever love, time and affection I can give them.  I find it's sometimes hard because a lot of my best energy has gone into 20 other children during the day.  But the primary children God has called me to are my own, so I really can't shut down until 8:00 when they go to bed.  It's definitely also been an excercise in stamina.   
I have found that staying extremely organized and keeping paper stacks small have also really helped my life. I like being a creative teacher, but there are limits to that.  Creativity takes time so I am learning how to incorporate creative elements without it being a time-sucker.  I have found that my little 2nd grade students are so adorable. I fell in love with all of them the first day of school.  I have lain awake at night agonzing over them and planning lessons in my head to make concepts easier to grasp.  It hurts me that most are so under privileged and struggling so much to catch up.  I delight in having another class full of Jesus's, Miguels and Marias.  Each one is so different, unique and special and I want nothing more than for them to be paid attention to, allowed to thrive, and celebrated in my classroom.

My own kids have had very different responses to school.  Ainsley has loved every minute of it.  She has thrived and could care less if one of her new "best friends" has a first name that it took a month to learn to pronounce and doesn't really speak English.  She also has a class buddy who rides the bus with her and Ainsley just loves all the interaction.  I'm not so sure about her academic focus, but hopefully that will come.

Hunter has struggled with the transition as I thought he might.  He has always struggled with new places no matter where they are, so this school brought onslaughts of tears daily for the first two weeks.  The school is very regimented in their routines and being new, he didn't know them so he basically struggled with every transition during the day.  He was embarrassed to ask for help, but didn't know what to do or what was expected.  For a kid who needs rules and routines and follows them to letter and hates to be wrong, this was especially difficult until he learned the new ones.  I think now he is starting to thrive on the routine though and is really liking school.  He especially loves going to the after school program. Academically, he is super focused and his reading has taken off.  I am always finding him with his head in a book. I am so so glad he is only 2 doors down and I can see him throughout the day.  His little tender heart desperately needed that for the first month and he still is clinging to the fact that I am there.  Both of their teachers are really great and I think God picked out just the right ones for their personalities.

I knew that that half hour drive would be a blessing and it really has.  On the way to school we learn a new Bible verse each week.  We are also learning a song that teaches the books of the Bible and even with all the tough Bible names, the kids like it a lot.  I have made it a habit to teach a new Bible story and lesson to them in the car each week as well.  Something that they can apply throughout the week.  I am amazed at how much they refer to it.  The time also allows us to pray for our day and talk about any problems and how to handle them.  On the way home, they have to tell me two positives and a negative about the day.  If I forget, Ainsley will remind me before I get to far.  Granted, sometimes it's about the lunch they had, but other times I have found out about bullying and tough class assignments that we need to talk through just because I ask for these three simple things.  The car gives us concentrated time before we get home and everyone scatters or feels the need to disconnect and retreat after a busy day.  One side note:  We were only two weeks into school before Ainsley took out the class bully by punching him in the stomach when he wouldn't leave her alone and kept hitting her.  While I had a stern discussion and she was crushed that she had to miss recess (I'm pretty sure she won't do it again at least at school), something in me was seriously battling the urge to crack up with belly shaking laughter that my teeny tiny little firecracker took on a kid twice her size who was picking on her and brought him to tears.  So that was a long car ride discussion you could say.

My lesson lately has been learning balance.  I have been studying a lot over the last two years about a more reflective and meditative spirituality that is not about checking boxes but more about continually being in the presence of Christ and loving Him and therefore loving those around me. I have such a long way to go in this, but certain spiritual disciplines have been helping (I'll share in another post). I have found that a lot of "shoulds" have become things to let go as God has shown me that they do little for my heart or towards the greater goal of falling deeper in love with Him.  As I prayerfully have considered my time and life as a new working parent I am seeing things in my life that I need to let go.  They were "should do's" before and now are hindering me in a lifestyle of work balanced with peace and reflection and rest before God.  Anyhow, I have closed my etsy shop as one thing.  I have conversations from potential customers sitting in my inbox and the shop that I have previously slaved over and brought from the ground up to something that is thriving, I am willing to just let go with open hands.  I let it go last week and felt an immediate sense of rest and freedom.  There are some other ministries too I am reevaluating.  I want to love deeply those that God has called me to love deeply and not be distracted by things that can pull me away from that.  I will let you know my progress.

I hope it's not a month before my next post, but who really knows.  Now that I am month in and my head is up and above water I have been feeling like my normal self and feeling crafty and creative again in the evenings.  Since I don't have etsy, I have had time to unwind with some projects and it always does good things for my soul.  Part of learning rest before God is learning to let yourself rejoice and delight in the things He has created us to rejoice and delight in....so I am!  If any turn out particularly decent, I'll post them.  For now, it has just been rest for the soul.