Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 11: Youts.

Field trip with 11-12th grades.
Youth movie night.
Today I am thankful for youth. I'm always amazed that the substitute list at the school is packed with people willing to teach and work with elementary school-aged kids, but only a very small group are willing to work with teens. It's completely backwards.

Babies and grade school aged kids stink. Like I mean literally stink. They have accidents. They throw up on you. They have snotty noses. They want to touch you all of the time and get in your lap. They are disgusting. (I've never one time had a teenager try to climb into my lap or snot on me.) Not to mention, little kids are needy in a way that only a new puppy can be. They can't communicate well and frequently meltdown when they can't get a point across. You cannot reason with them and mostly they only respond to direct threats. It's like Thunderdome or Blade Runner. It's loud, crazy, pandemonium punctuated by screaming and irrational behavior. I can't imagine that ANYONE thinks elementary school is easier than high school. You must all be crazy.

I'm a youth person all the way. So, today, day eleven of 30 Days of Thankful, I'm thankful for teenagers.

CCA Volleyball Girls
A) The teens I get to teach at school. 
Yes, they make me insane. (They can honestly respond 'likewise, Mrs. C'.) But it's all good. I wouldn't trade jobs with anyone on the entire planet. I am happy to get up in the morning and go to work, and not many people get to say that. I love the kids. I love their tedium--like what kinds of shoes they find popular and what movies they are going to see this weekend. I like hearing about their lives and dreams and fears.

I like it when they have a song they want to share with me or a story from the bonfire/bowling night/first date. I love it when a kid "gets it" and things click in English class and suddenly that hand is flying up in the air to identify the gerund or explain why Hester's situation was so jacked up. It's like magic. I'm thankful that they trust me. It's also some kind of awesome to put on the Shakespeare play every year. I look around sometimes and can't believe that this gets to be my life.

Entire High School on field trip to see a play.

B) The kids I get to be involved with through church. They sort of have to put up with me, since I'm the preacher's wife, but I'm glad that they do it so graciously. The Husband began his career in youth ministry, so we have a soft spot for that particular people group (although I'm not EVER going camping again as long a I live).

Having my girls involved in the youth for the first time is interesting. They are growing up so fast, and the fact that they still want me to go to youth movie night with them is something that I'm not taking for granted or wasting. Yes, I'll go anywhere you'll still let me for as long as you'll let me. I'll drive, make brownies, let everyone come to my house to sleep over, you name it, just please, daughters, let me be involved in your lives.

Spirit week 7th and 8th grade girls
I can't imagine everyone not rushing forward to volunteer to host D-NOW weekends (when you fill up your basement, rec room, living room floor with youth who stay two nights and do Bible Study and local activities)...the fact that we have to beg folks to open their homes is baffling to me.

The kids are polite and kind and funny and eager and excited to be there. They clean up after themselves and say "yes, ma'am" and "no, ma'am". Sure, they are throwing Cheetos at each other and jumping on the trampoline at midnight, but have we grown so old that we've forgotten the joy of midnight on a trampoline or flashlight tag or raiding the girl's/boy's camp? It's a sad state of affairs if you've never thrown food at someone either. You need to get out more.

C) The kids I get to know through my daughters' friendships and sports. My girls are involved in volleyball (Big E is on the Volleyball Team; Naynuh is the team manager), basketball (Naynuh), and cheer (both wondertwins), so we get to know a lot of different kids over the course of a season. Yes, it's exhausting driving all over the free world to see your kids participate in sports. It's also expensive (gas and food and uniforms and shoes, etc.) and draining, and the little ones miss you during that time, but what an amazing chance to give your kids! They get to learn about hard work and sacrifice. They get to practice teamwork and putting others first and serving a group. They get to run and sweat and be physical. They get to learn about winning and losing gracefully. I can't imagine not pushing my kids to participate in sports and activities. They round you out as a human being.

Working with young people is an honor and a privilege. More people should try it. You might be surprised at how rewarding it is.

Macbeth Cast 2012--entire high school CCA

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day Five: Vote

I hate election time.

1.) My husband's head might explode following the results. He is a news junkie and a political maniac. He'll be hopping around here tomorrow night like it's five seconds on the clock in the Alabama vs. Auburn game with Auburn on the one yard line, fourth down, down by six. Like that sort of spastic.

2.) I have absolutely uncompromising beliefs that I am hesitant to express, because it might alienate people we are trying to minister to (and it is FAR more important to win people to Christ than to win a political argument). See, I disagree with just about everyone, because the Bible is my yardstick and if it doesn't agree with Scripture, I'm against it. There's no room for compromise. But people have to get with the Holy Spirit before they understand all of that business, or else it's just white noise. So, better for salvation first, then politics later.

3.) The talking heads argue themselves purple back and forth without anything solid to back up opinion. Until  actual numbers are in tomorrow, it's anyone's game. No one knows until the fat lady sings.

But Steve Johnson said something powerful from the pulpit Sunday that puts this entire deal into perspective for me as a Christian: it doesn't really matter who wins tomorrow, because

God is still God, and He is on the Throne.

And with that said, Vote, because it is your privilege as an American, won through blood, sacrifice, and death.

Vote because it is the very least you can do to express your gratitude for living in a free nation.

Vote because it is the most pure expression of what it means to be an American.

Vote because you can.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

30 Days of Thankful Day Four: Funny Kids

This is what "fun" actually looks like
The Little Flower wanted to know if army ants wear helmets. When told that it was highly unlikely, she followed up with, "Well, how do they know they are in the Army then?"

She then asked me what "fun" is. I said she'd know it when she saw it. A few minutes later her brother slipped and fell over some of her toys. She laughed, looked up and me and said, still giggling, "Fun. I soooo get it now."

The Number One Son is still in wrist braces from his playground accident. He's on that line where he can take them off for most activities, but any kind of contact game/sport or activity where he might hurt his arms, and they have to go back on for the duration. So, I caught him riding his bike 400 mph down a huge hill behind our house--no helmet, no braces. As I'm screaming at him, he shakes his head at me and says, "But, Mom, bike riding isn't a 'contact sport'."

"Not until your body makes contact with the concrete," I yell back.

His response? "If I hit the concrete going that fast, I'm not sure that the braces are actually going to matter--I'm probably going to need 9-1-1 either way."


The Fashionista painted her nails in this really cool 'dripping paint' technique she learned off of Pinterest I mean You Tube. (I stand corrected.)  Everyone at school wanted to know how to do it, and several girls even copied the technique. E-2 immediately took that elaborate nail art off and did something else. When I asked her what was the point of all of that work and setting a trend only to take it off she responded, "Exactly. I am SETTING the trend, Mother, not following it."

For Halloween E2 went as Hair Girl--Saving the  world
from bad hair days one head at a time. She's wearing a sweater
cape and a belt with hair styling equipment hanging off of it.

Naynuh is participating in cheer and basketball this season. That's not so funny yet, but you just hang in there and I promise you, it will be.

30 Days of Thankful Day Three: Christmas Village

How could I not be thankful for Christmas Village? It's the perfect illustration of having enough of everything that you can pay $10.00 for a ticket to go browse a bunch of stuff you don't really need. (Does anyone really 'need' a door wreath or yard art or more jewelry? No. We want.) And God has blessed us enough that I can afford needs and wants during this season.

Not only that, but I got to spend a much needed day with a girlfriend eating and shopping and talking. It was blissful (even if my feet ached at the end). So, today I am thankful for friendships--those in the past, those in the present, and those in the future--and for abundance. My prayer is that I am able to be a good friend all of the time and not only when it's convenient for me. Love you!

I will now make some random observations from Christmas Village:

1.) Yukkon XL: I love it when I'm driving The Family Truckster on the freeway in traffic. (It's sort of comforting knowing I'm comandeering a tank through Malfunction Junction.) On the flip side, it's difficult parking the largest SUV on the road in a parking deck built two decades ago.

2.) I have crossed into that stage of Old where I look for bathrooms as we tour any facility, cause I'm going to have to pee in an hour.

3.) Not sure what this says about my ever changing personality, but I bought two separate outfits with animal prints on them. I guess it means I'm going to be one of THOSE Old Ladies.

4.) Taking kids in strollers to the Christmas Village is child abuse. I'm sorry, but it is. So is taking your husband.

5.) Next year, Tracy, we are buying the super expensive preview day tickets for No Stroller Day. I'm serious.

6.) I'm thankful for that new package check feature.

7.) I'm also thankful for a husband. He kept the two littlest shorties while I was off Holly Golightly Gallivanting around the city and took them to the park. He also instructed me to pick up Wing King on my way home so that I didn't have to cook. Did I mention he gave me his mad money out of his wallet as I cruised out the door so that I'd have "a little bit extra"? (Stay away from my husband or I'll cut you.)

All in all, there was a lot to be thankful for! :-) 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day Two: Thankful for Parenting Fails. It Means I'm the Mommy.

Parenting Fails. I've had my share. (So have you; shut up.)

1.) Lillian ate chocolate off of the floor in my classroom even after I told her to drop it. My response? I laughed. Okay, so maybe she needed a spanking, but seriously? I might eat chocolate off of the floor too. I also happen to know that it was her sister's from snack. (Not that it makes any difference, since it was ON THE FLOOR, but you see where I'm coming from.)

Making everyone comply
one photo at a time
2.) I "promised" to take my kids trick or treating this year. It just worked out in my favor that the Number One Son went to a friend's house on Halloween and forgot about it, then we had church and it just didn't come up. Lucky me, right? Well, he reminded me that "the Bible says don't make a promise you don't intend to keep". I can justify all I want, but I should have kept him home and gone trick or treating. What I counted a "lucky break" getting out of it he counted as the deepest kind of betrayal--a broken promise.
Lovely. Just lovely.
3.) My kids think that Chuck E. Cheese has been "closed for renovations" for a decade.

4.) I once spanked the wrong child and then blamed her for it. Loudly.

5.) The first thing I taught my girls to do independently in the kitchen was to make their own breakfast so that I could sleep later. My kids still think it's like a cardinal sin worthy of a Papal visit for absolution if they wake me up too early on Saturday morning. (I'm still not sure that I actually repent of this one.)

6.) If I can't figure out who did it, everyone is punish-ed.

Lillian dressed like a homeless person.

7.) My kids are obedient out of Big Fear. I threaten any sort of public humiliation to achieve total world domination. I will dance in the orthodontist's office. I will post Nekkid Bebe Photos if you hack my Facebook, so on and so forth. And they know I mean it. The threat of your mother throwing down in the dentist's office is powerful (and probably psychologically damaging), but rather effective at the same time.

8.) The Little Flower is wearing all of her brother's hand-me-downs. What? She doesn't know or care. Why do you?

9.) The Husband and I are thinking about going to Disney without the kids. I think that might be over the top even for me.

 10.) I'm still Mother of the Year in Johnsonville. Of course, I'm running unopposed, but whatever.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

If You Give a Kid a Pancake

I have smart kids.

It's true. They are quick on the uptake, good students, quality test takers, and all-around smarty pants. But the Number One Son has entered the fifth grade--notorious for being The Hardest Grade in our little school. It's not the teacher's fault--it's just the way it shakes down with more new material than review material. So, Junior has been struggling a little in spelling and penmanship.

Now, the spelling I understand personally. I have to really, really focus on my own spelling skills, which is probably why God invented the spell check device just for moi. And penmanship? (Yes, we still teach that.) I don't want to say it's not big whoop, because it's graded and an important character issue not to quit when things are difficult. (You still have to keeping going at your job sometimes when you think it's silly and not terribly important, right?) It's a life-lesson. So, press on toward the goal, Son.


Yesterday was elementary honor chapel where we recognize all of the honor students. My babies have always been honored at these sorts of events, being A-B kind of kids, until today when the Number One Son didn't make the A/B Honor Roll, because spelling and penmanship rode him around the room and left him for dead. And to make it worse, he was the only kid in his grade who didn't make the A/B Honor Roll.

So, we did the only thing there was to do.

We ditched school and went for pancakes. :-)

My beautiful boy carried the tray to the table, cleared up after we ate, held the door for me and two women coming into the the restaurant behind us. Then he walked with me to the driver's side where he opened the door for me before going around to the passenger side and climbing in himself.

(Don't tell anyone, but that whole spelling and penmanship thing is overrated in the grand scheme of things.)

And today, when he took his spelling practice test? Well, let's just say that he better have enjoyed that b'fast, since it'll be the last one like it. He'll be too busy to go with me during the next elementary honor chapel because he'll be getting his A/B Honor Roll Certificate.

I love you, Carter. You are my favorite son in the whole world.