Saturday, August 23, 2014

And Breathe

I'm seven days into the new school year. A new school year that brought lots of new changes. Chief among them is the change in time. For the last decade I've taught four, 60 minutes classes, and a half-hour intervention bell. Now, I teach five, 50 minute classes, and a 50 minute research bell. Our school day hours didn't change, so I basically have 50 minutes less each week to impart all there is to know about 8th grade Language Arts to my students...and I have 28 more students to teach. And that pesky research period to supervise and monitor. And 50 minutes less planning time each week than I previously had (you know, that time when I'm supposed to grade and plan and make copies so I don't have to stay after school to do it or come in on weekends).

I'm not complaining though. The schedule is exhausting. Being 29 weeks pregnant doesn't help. But seven days in (and with about 75% of their names learned...yes, it takes me awhile), and I know it will be okay. I just need to breathe.

We were busy at our house last week. Monday we had C's first grade orientation. Tuesday was small group. Wednesday was "take C school supply shopping day" (lucky girl doesn't start until Monday). Thursday I had my Open House and One Ordinary Dad took the kiddos to B's Open House at his preschool/daycare. Last night we had Suzuki orientation for C's school (she played violin last year, but she's going to give cello a try this year-- I'm super pumped; plus, we bought a violin, so she can still play it if she wants, but we're all about exposure to different instruments and trying new things).

My in-laws graciously invited the kiddos over for a sleepover last night. One Ordinary Dad and I got to enjoy some food truck goodness and a free jazz concert after the Suzuki orientation before we came home and collapsed. I slept hard. A good nine hours.
Today, One Ordinary Dad is giving more time to just breathe. He's picking up the kiddos from his parents' house and then taking them to the museum-- a favorite spot. I'm planning to read and rest and knit and enjoy these few hours alone.

Let's face it, sometimes we all need that time to recharge. I used to struggle and feel guilty about it. Days when One Ordinary Dad would take the kids somewhere would leave me feeling guilty that I wasn't out there with them. But the reality is that I'm a better mom when I ask for that time off every once in a while. When I tell my husband that if he could just give me some time alone to regroup, I promise to come back a better person. Sometimes this looks like him going off on adventures with our kids. Sometimes it looks like the three of them playing at home while I wander around Ikea or a bookstore. I've found this happens about every six weeks or so-- this need to recharge. I've stopped feeling guilty about needing that time, because I know it does wonders to restore my soul. I'm thankful that my husband gets this and gives me that time (don't worry, I give it to him when he needs it too).

I want to encourage any other mamas out there to not feel guilty about needing that breathing room. It's okay to ask your husband or in-laws or parents or the teenager across the street (well, you'll have to pay her) to have some fun with your kiddos while you bow out and rest. In fact, if you look in the Bible you'll remember that even God rested. Take a Sabbath. Take a breather. And don't feel guilty. You do a lot.

Thankfully this week is not full, not at all. Other than our normal small group, we will simply be getting back into the routine of school now that C will finally be back. And counting down the days until we are a family of five.

Blessings and REST to you,
One Ordinary Mom

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Light Up the Beginning of a New Decade

Tomorrow I start a new decade of teaching.  It's year 11. Actually, tomorrow the students arrive; I've been at school all week. I can't say it's something I'm excited about or to which I've been looking forward. It's not really job dissatisfaction so much as it is my heart is really with my kids at home. B is already back at school too though and C starts in a little over a week. August always kind of feels this way, but this year is more intense. I kept kind of hoping some miracle would happen and I'd just be able to take a year off.

I'm not going to go into details, but there is a culture of negativity in my district right now. I have hope that it can and will change. God didn't perform a quick miracle over our circumstances so that I could just take the year off-- finish off these last 12 weeks of pregnancy and spend several months at home with our little one. And as I've been praying and reflecting, I've come to learn it's because He wants me at my job. To be a light. To be positive. To be His hands and feet.

And it's that reflection, that which my creator has put before me, that makes going to bed tonight knowing I need to get up before the sun tomorrow to welcome 150 new fresh faces into my room, easier.  Daily, I will try hard to light up the dark places with my coworkers, with my students, with my students' parents.  And my hope and my prayer is that little by little that light will spread, that a slow miracle will take place, and that culture of negativity will disappear. Maybe then, other Augusts won't feel so much like this August. They'll feel better.

Time to light up the start of a new decade.

~One Ordinary Mom

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

When Plans Change: Unexpected Surprises

I am a planner. Type A all the way. I needed to know yesterday what the plans are for next weekend. I've been working on spontaneity a lot this summer, mostly in the form of just saying "yes" to whatever my kids ask to do (which usually isn't a huge stretch for me as it either involves the pool, the playground, the museum center, or the zoo).

This is my last full week of summer vacation. Naturally I had it all planned out. A neat little to-do list of experiences to check off. One more zoo trip. One more museum center trip. A trip to the playground where we can feed the ducks our stale leftover waffles from Saturday morning. A matinee of Planes Fire and Rescue. Checking out a new indoor playplace. A meetup with a college roommate and her kids. So much to cram into one more week at home with them.

So on Monday we set off to the zoo. A little over an hour into our trip (I had packed a lunch- I had PLANNED on staying for several hours), my normally rambunctious six-year-old sidled up next to me and told me she didn't feel like herself and wanted to go home. My heart started to race and I think I half expected her to puke on the spot. But she said her belly didn't hurt, she was just tired. Water and some Craisins didn't help. She still wanted to come home. So we did. And she dozed on and off on the couch for the rest of the day. And for much of Tuesday (there went the park with the ducks and the matinee). The final verdict reached early this morning was strep throat. Afternoon plans were cancelled and antibiotics prescribed. She's on the rebound now-- pretty much back to normal and ready to head out on an adventure tomorrow. She doesn't care that two days of my plans for her had to be cancelled or changed around. And there were some unexpected surprises in that.

The unexpected surprise of taking B to the river to throw rocks (a favorite activity of his) and having him all to myself while she slept. The unexpected surprise of having a quiet morning to make muffins and birthday cake for One Ordinary Dad and arrange his presents just so.
The unexpected surprise of a little more time to read while my sweet girl rested and my boy quietly sat by her side on the couch and patted her leg (those two really have an amazing bond). The unexpected surprise of a long midday walk alone while both kids napped (it's kind of nice to have a husband who works from home). The unexpected surprise of a little extra time than I anticipated to go get my classroom ready. The unexpected snuggles. The unexpected quiet. It was actually, unexpectedly, good for my soul.
I learned today that these unexpected flowers that appeared recently in our backyard are called "surprise lilies." In nine years of living in this house I've never seen them before. What a beautiful surprise and the perfect end to what I was wrestling with in my heart.

Sometimes plans change unexpectedly. Things don't go the way we want. And it's easy to have a pity party (I was having one big time on Tuesday morning when it was clear that it wasn't just the weekend catching up with C). I didn't want to deal with a sick kid on my last week of summer break with just the two of them. I didn't want to deal with cancelling and changing my plans. But it turned out okay. And I know these were just superficial little end of summer fun plans, but if I can trust God for the unexpected surprises and blessings when the little plans change, then certainly I can have faith to hold onto him when big important plans change, when the unexpected surprises may take longer to appear, when it really matters.

~One Ordinary Mom :-)