Sunday, October 25, 2015

Day 25: When I find myself settling in...

    I've been so taken aback by how difficult this series has been to write and to explain to others from the outside looking in.  I have struggled to understand if maybe I came across differently that I intended while writing or if I included too many details of others instead of focusing on myself.  I tried to evaluate my own difficulty in the transition to Kindergarten for my son, as opposed to his own specifically.  I tried to contrast my own experiences in teaching against what I was experiences, and I sought to find a root for my frustrations by evaluating my expectations going into these elementary school years.

     I am so thankful to report that I am settling into this new role as 'parent of an elementary school child' versus my previous & comfortable role as 'preschool parent'.  I have struggled (and I'm sure will continue to struggle) with not being in control & with trusting the school teachers and administrators decisions for my son.  I did not anticipate how helpless I would feel on some levels to the decisions of teachers at the school, and how I would long to find a way to gain a voice on his behalf.  After walking through the early months, I now see the danger of becoming the belligerent parent as a tendency of my personality, and I do not desire to become one.  I am so thankful for the chance to walk through bit-by-bit as I would with a trusted friend, what has bothered me & whether or not it really should.

     After seeing the negativity and ultimately the painful struggle clearly in my writing, I knew I could answer my own questions from earlier this month.  Although my feelings were valid, I was dealing with the transitional 'speed bumps' & I can now see that I was reacting by holding on tighter & fighting for control.  I cannot promise that I won't struggle with this tendency to hold on too tight when things seem out of my control to fix, but I can recognize it.

     When I was teaching, I reacted in some of the same ways.  My first year of teaching I held on too tightly; I reacted strongly & harshly sometimes in situations that may have called for a gentler touch. I had a sweet former student remind me of a time when I sent her & another out for 'name calling' one of their classmates.  They were seniors in high school, very smart, not serious in their attack against their friend, but rather testing me.  That group tested me many times that year, and sometimes I failed.  I asserted my authority, but I didn't win the fight.  I don't think that strategy is ultimately effective, and I know they saw it as weakness.

     After I gained confidence from my first year, I was able to settle in.  I was able to diffuse situations that would have ended in power struggle, and I was able to feel more rooted in my own ability to do a good job.  Knowing that I could do it & feeling what I had to give the students was valuable was the most powerful tool I had.  It empowered me in my classroom authority, and it propelled me through most classroom situations & conferences.

    I know I can apply the same principles as a parent.  I can settle in & become confident in my role as a parent, the advocate for my sons.  I can find the place of balance between the belligerent mother who hounds the school & the one who doesn't ever have a conference.  I can learn through this first year how the school works, what reasonable expectations are, and how I can successfully help my sons.  I am so glad to think of it that way, it's my first year as a parent of an elementary schooler.  

     I would love to share more wonderful stories from when I was a teacher, because there were many.  But I feel as though this series has already wrapped itself up.  My 4th pregnancy has been challenging, and I'm sure the hormones have made my emotional reactions more pronounced.  I'm so happy to call this work 'finished' although it is not 31 days long.  I hope it has been or can be helpful to others, and I am thankful to the Lord for walking me through.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Day 22: When I give my son's teacher credit...

     I have been so incredibly proud of my son lately.  I love helping him with his homework because I feel like I get a little glimpse into his world of school.  I love seeing his progress & improvements.  I love celebrating his small accomplishments & watching him learn to read words.  I love seeing him in the focus of study & seeing his creativity.

   We send little notes in all our boys' lunch boxes everyday; it was a tradition started by my sweet hubs.  They love it.  This year, I've tried to be intentional about speaking encouragement though the notes & telling them we are proud & they are loved.  James decided his past week to write his daddy a note, and then an encore note was written for me.  :-)  He wanted his daddy to take it with him to work, and it said "James loves Daddy".  Yesterday, my boy wanted to write my note, and he decided on, "Mom love James.  I love you so much."  He used his sight words 'you' and 'so' and 'I'.  He was incredibly proud of himself, and so am I.

    I am so thankful for the hard work of his teacher.  I am so happy to give her credit for his first quarter progress in reading & writing.  I know his comfort at school is improving, and he is learning how to adapt to the new, high expectations.  I have confidence that although sometimes it may not be perfectly fair for him to get the blame in some situations, it is appropriate.  I have confidence that she is not only helping him learn the rules, but also teaching the whole class at the same time.  I am so grateful for all she does, and I'm excited to watch him grow.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Day 21: When I think of teaching, what makes my heart swell...

     When I walked my son into school this year, it brought back so many 'school' feelings for me, albeit an elementary school versus a high school.  The feel of the building, the bustle of busyness in the office, the navigation of the halls.  I loved working in a school for many reasons, and the familiar sensory cues bring some of my memories back.

     I remember I loved the feeling of being prepared- of walking in the dark, early morning to be the first one who turned on the lights.  I had a single brew coffee maker & would enjoy that first cup alone.  I remember not all days were that way, many more chaotic, but that was my perfect start: getting everything staged to turn over each class in succession with ease.

     I remember some students better than others, mostly for the interactions we had.  My memory is wired so that it was difficult for me to learn names until I could pair the name with some kind of memorable characteristic.  I always felt a little badly for not having their names more quickly, and sadly I have forgotten names after some time has passed.  I remember faces & recalling them brings me great joy.  I laugh a little to myself because my mental images of most of the students (whom I don't see now on a regular basis) are still the image of them as 18 year old kids, and they are all at least 24 years old now, most are between 25-28.  They are older now than I was as their teacher, and that revelation has made me laugh!

     I loved my students - I loved being a part of their lives for those brief months.  I loved pouring out myself for them to grow.  I loved seeing them feel success & pride & joy.  I loved being able to impact their world, hopefully for the better in small ways or in big.  I loved really 'clicking' with some students & finding life long friends.  I loved how smart many of my student were, and truth be told there were some incredibly talented ones.  I love seeing them now, via social media, and being amazed by their journey.  I love seeing them now, in person, and being able to look into their adult faces & hear about their lives.  I loved being their teacher, and I'm so glad they receive me in warmth when we meet.

     I loved my peers/colleagues at school.  I loved bouncing ideas back and forth, working through different problems, and hearing theirs as well.  I did not have a close relationship with many of the faculty, but there were a handful who hold a special place in my heart.  I could not have been as successful as I was in teaching, if I had not been surrounded by such wonderful educators.  Even when the interactions kept me from finishing all the work I was grading, the time sacrifices were very much worth it in the long run.

     I loved participating in the extracurriculars at school.  I sponsored a lacrosse club one year, which was a ton of fun to spend time in a different setting with the students.  I was an assistant coach for track one year, and the effect was similar, but that more of the kids weren't in my classes & didn't know me already.  I came away with the opportunity to help support & coach the team to our school's first district championship, ever! (though not directly due to my efforts of course- not taking credit!).  I came to football games, soccer games, I kept the clock for basketball games.  I did the silly teacher expeditions & even did some tumbling during halftimes, ha!  I attended drama productions and was able to co-MC the boys' Mr. Wildcat event.  I chaperoned prom, every year!  I loved it - all of it.  Gosh, I didn't remember half of these things until I tried to write them down.

     I loved when my hubs the fire fighter had to come by the school because we were in their district.  I was so proud of my strong officer - and the way students respond to the fire fighters in respect was always a moment gratitude & pride for me.  I do not get to 'show off' my hubs in many ways, but I feel like those moments were kind of little show boat moments for me & my hot fireman hubs. ;-)

     School is something that I loved participating in & still hold incredibly fond.  I suppose maybe that is why I desire for my sons to love school too; because of all it stands for in my heart&mind.  It holds amazing potential for so many avenues in life, so many choices & roads to be explored.  There isn't any platform quite like it, in my experiences, to propel you in the path of your choosing for life.  School is hard though; it's meant to be.  I think my memories of the hard have not colored my thinking as much as my memories of the lovely.  No wonder I'm such an idealist for my boys experiences.

Lord, help me continue to take the slow, deep breaths & find peace in the journey.  Thank you for helping me work out why I have struggled, and continue to teach me how to support my boys just as their mom, not their teacher.  Thank you for the gift of school, no matter how differently it may come to each of us.  Amen.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Day 20: When I answer the question: how's it going...?

     After walking slowly through this kindergarten journey, I find myself answering the question, "How's it going?"  My immediate answer is, "pretty good I think!?"  My boy comes home most days happy & with stories to tell.  He seems to be shot out of a cannon when we get home; he has so much he wants to play&do&watch&read!  He still has some days where he makes some simple mistakes & has discipline at school, but I don't think he's as discouraged by the 'lessons in discipline' as before.

     As for me, I'm so thankful to see him full of excitement about book fair & telling me about what his friends wanted to play at recess & who was doing what at his table.  I feel sad when he has the hard lessons where he wasn't really to blame, but was still technically breaking a rule.  I'm sure these two emotions of joy & sorrow will continue with me as his school journey continues.  I don't think it's terribly weird to feel the happy/sad highs&lows.  Mine may be influenced by pregnancy hormones.  ;-)

    "How's it going?"  It's going y'all.  I'm glad to have those in my life who have asked & listened to my stories & offered their encouragement.  Thank you.  I'm thankful to send my boy to a school where I have heard great reviews.  I'm adjusting to the reality of not being a peer to my sons teacher, but rather having a tertiary role.  It's going y'all.  Thank you Lord for helping me learn how to walk down this new road.

((So friends, if you've been worried about me or my boy because of what I've written, forgive me.  He's doing just fine & I'm getting there! ;-)  I have written of my struggle in honesty- but the big picture answer is: it's going fine. We'll keep learning as we go!))


Monday, October 19, 2015

Day 19: When I stop & pray for my son's teacher...

I know that some problems may feel big- but when put in proper perspective they turn out to be small.  I am so glad to have the chance to focus on what I am grateful for rather than what has been painful for me as a momma.  Here is my simple prayer of thanks for my boy's teacher.

     Lord, thank you for my son's kindergarten teacher.  Thank you for her hard work, for her dedication to her students, and for her presences in his life.  Thank you that she has set up her room thoughtfully & moves through her day with the class with method & order.  Thank you for her impact on his growth as a person, as a student, and as a friend.  Thank you for the hard lessons for my son to learn, and for the easy ones that boost his confidence.  Thank you for her supervision & for allowing her to make the best decisions she can.  Thank you for the long days she works, the inevitable overtime she puts in, and her smile for the students during the day.  Thank you that she seeks to impart in them the skills they need to be successful in navigating all the school rules & environments.

Lord thank you for choosing my son's teacher.  Thank you for placing him at this school, in this classroom.  Thank you that you are sovereign.  Please help us to support his teacher in any ways we can.  Help us to let her know we appreciate her efforts, and help us speak it out to our son.  Thank you for your guidance & wisdom in every new season.  Thank you for making my heart soft towards her, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve in her classroom.  Amen.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Day 18: When I owe my son's teacher an apology...

     I have taken a brief step back from writing in this series because I felt really torn about whether or not my son's teacher would be offended if she read these posts.  My first answer was maybe, which is why I decided I should re-evaluate what I'd written.

     I came up with a few key points from my previous posts about what I've said of her so far:  1. She is too hard on my sensitive son.  2.  She makes some judgement calls in discipline without hearing or knowing the whole truth.  3.  She doesn't value boosting self efficacy or enjoyment of school.

     While I feel these main points are fair from my own estimations, I have not talked about them with her.  (which means I could essentially be wrong!)  First,  I have not because I do not want her to feel challenged by my 'discussion of goals' for her students.  Second, because I do not want her to feel that I believe her to be a bad teacher.  If I am honest, I truly do not have any reasons to complain about her, other than our experience has been hard for my son, me, & my husband.  But just because something is hard, even painful, doesn't mean it is bad.  On the contrary, I honestly believe she is doing a fine job, and I did not feel that had come across in the blog thus far.  I hope by the end of the year, that I can appreciate her style & approach more than I have at the beginning, and I hope that if I do my job as a mom, I can achieve my goals for him as well.

     I truly hope that I do not & have not come across as belligerent towards my son's teacher.  If I have, I am sorry & I offer an apology.  Mostly, I desired to work through my own emotions during this time of transition, and I am learning that the lessons here is: me letting go.  It really isn't about his teacher at all.

     I have replaced all the posts because I feel they are valuable, and because they share pieces of my heart on the subject.  I do not wish to cause any trouble for my son in school; it is the LAST thing I would want.  I hope that by sharing my stories, which include many others whom are all valuable people to me, that I do not abuse any of those relationships.  If I have in any way, please forgive me.

Thank you for following along with me in this journey, and I hope to finish out this series in a more positive swing...  The Lord is gracious to me & He is faithful.  I can trust Him & I can let go.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Day 14: When I practice goal setting...

     As a teacher, I practiced goal setting often.  I would set short term planning goals based on curriculum, daily 'what needs to be graded goals', and long term goals for overall achievement and mastery of subjects.  I have always been a 'list maker' and the only thing hard about 'goal setting' for me what deciding what was an attainable goal.

    One of the goals I mentioned previously for my regular ed students was a yearly goal I used for my evaluations.  I desired to use vocabulary scaffolding to increase the students' self efficacy for the subject matter.  In less fancy terms, I employed the 'word of the day' strategy as a way to build their vocabulary for understanding their text books, give them extra credit, and in general boost their how confident the students were in their own success.  Self efficacy is really 'do you think you can do it?' in simple terms, and therefore, I tried to make the subject matter more understandable by taking away the vocabulary barrier.

     I have previously mentioned that I had set two preliminary goals for kindergarten: 1. enjoyment of school. 2. Increased self efficacy.  I did not & do not have an expectation for when my son learns to read, how perfect his hand writing becomes, or how much math he will learn in kindergarten.  I have absolutely no clue what an age appropriate standard for science or history would be.  I had hoped these goals would be a part of the teacher's short term & long term goals as well, but I am not as confident after this first quarter if I am correct.

    Which brings me to my next juncture: How can I help meet these goals I see as valuable?

     Ok, for goal #1: enjoyment of school.  I have tried to remind him of his favorite activities as they come up, because honestly, those really help him look forward to school!  His favorite activity each week is library (so wonderful), but he really seems to like all his extra-curricular activities each day.  He's been excited about some different things, being the leader of the day, the school's 'fun run' activity, and picture day.  Basically reminding him about things to look forward to, even though school was 'long' in his estimations.  Another strategy I have used was chocolate milk.  Hilariously, I didn't think of it until visiting him at lunch one day & noticing that he didn't bring his water bottle.  So he was having his lunch with no drink at all.  I considered what I could send in, but getting a cold chocolate milk for $.50 was like a treat for him, everyday!!  I gladly embraced the small token that he would get chocolate milk, which we don't drink at home, everyday when he goes to school.  It's the little things.

     Goal #2: increased self efficacy.  Does he think he can succeed, and how can I help me feel more confident that he will?  My main issue for this stemmed from his lack of understanding of the rules & systems at the beginning of the year.  It was like on the job training almost where he kept messing up because he didn't know what to do, and then he became discouraged.  I tried to combat that issue by helping him remember that everybody makes mistakes, and that he would know better for the next time what to do.  Over the weeks, this strategy worked, but mostly because he did not give up!  His work that is sent home was difficult to evaluate, but as he has started having homework, I have been able to guide him through some trouble spots that I saw reported back from his daily work.  I am actually glad for the chance to sit with him while he's working, so that I can maybe help correct some continuous errors he teacher is marking.  It is such a joy to see him improve in a small way from some of my feedback!  I hope that helps him build more confidence to know he CAN do it, and he just needs to keep practicing.

     Feel free to add some comments of how you have been able to help your child enjoy school or how you may have helped them feel more confident that they can succeed!!  I would love to hear from some veteran mommas & daddies.  Thanks!


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Day 13: When I feel like the teacher is too hard on my son...

     As a teacher, I saw many students whose parents were protective & a few who had an elevated opinion of their child.  Most parents know their child's character in high school, and few seemed surprised to hear of a child's behavior.  There is always the exception, such as the case of the parents who 'didn't believe' their child had plagiarized the internet, but for the most part, parents know.  They may not always be pleased with their child's behavior, but they know.

     As a mother, I have found myself in the awkward position, right out of the gate, of being a parent who feels the teacher doesn't understand my son.  Maybe she didn't get a chance to evaluate how sensitive he is, or it is possible that she doesn't realize how much he desires to please her with his behavior.  I know he takes getting in trouble, even for very minor disruptions seriously, and I wish I could somehow impart to her that she can make it easier on both of them if she was gentler.

     Of course, I realize how funny it seems for me to try & explain my son's character to his teacher who doesn't yet know him.  She is operating in a standard procedure function, and she isn't making allowances for anyone (most likely).  Temperament is not necessarily considered by all teacher, and I have no idea if she does consider it.

There is nothing wrong with treating all students the same, but the definition of 'fair' treatment is inherently unequal.  In education, 'fair' means what is most appropriate for the success of each student.  I think as young as the students are in kindergarten, it would be appropriate to handle them delicately.  My opinion on approach is obviously not a universally applied one.

    There was one morning that I volunteered at school were I asked two of the other moms of girls in the same class as my son how they were doing.  I was curious to see if the transition was difficult for everyone & if their daughters had been disciplined in a similar manner.  They told me, because of their experience with older children in school, that it was better 'not to coddle them' because 'first grade is no joke'.  While I do not desire for my son to be caught off guard by the expectations of first grade, I would like to ask, "when did school get to be so hard?"  It does not surface in my memories.

     As for me, I am trying hard not to be the parent who isn't seeing the reality of their child & his abilities.  I am not saying my kid is a genius, although he may be; however, I am saying that it hurts my momma heart to see him struggle.  I am so thankful that he's found the right groove in the last few weeks, and that these first painful weeks at school are hopefully behind us.  I fully expect more difficulties ahead, although I admit I have not a clue what to anticipate.  I think that is when I circle back to trusting the Lord & trying not to control it all.  Lord, help me trust.


Monday, October 12, 2015

Day 12: When one of my students was an orphan...

     I think back to my days of teaching & wonder how much I missed that may have been going on in the lives of my students.  There are people in my life who pick up on things that I do not; one of them is my husband.  I did not have a good eye for noticing a student who may have been having problems at home, possibly because I do not assume details unless I am told.  I was also very young & naive.

     I think the Lord sheltered me & protected me in many ways.  I did not know how to embrace students in their sufferings & personal circumstances, and I was not equipped to help any of them through tough times.

     I had one student in my regular education class who was older than her peers by at least a year.  She had some learning difficulties, but you would never have known it from how hard she worked.  She was one of the sweetest, most cheerful, most hard working students I had in that course.  She made so much progress, and I was very thankful to be able to celebrate her achievement!  I saw her gain a higher self efficacy & move forward with greater confidence.

     I had her as my student when I was pregnant with my first son.  She brought me a baby gift, and it was the only one I received from a student.  I am still incredibly touched by her generosity, and her thoughtfulness.  How many high school students would ever consider giving away a baby gift, let alone to their teacher?

     She shared with me that she was going to age out of the foster care system, and that she would have to move out of her foster parents' house on her own.  The state was providing resources for her to get established, and they gave money for her living expenses (if I remember correctly).  I remember clearly her telling me how she picked a place to live so she could walk easily to&from school, and how she was going to get money for a computer.

     I have never wanted to throw caution to the wind & invite someone into my home like I did hearing her story.  Our little family was going to change drastically with a baby on the way & a move out of state around the corner.  I just knew I couldn't do anything more than what I had given her in class, despite what my heart cried out.  My sorrow for this brave, sweet girl to be out on her own.  To not have a forever family to call her own, besides her foster family I told myself.  I know she had spoken so fondly of them, and how she was welcome there always.  I put my confidence in the Lord's timing for her, trusted that He was sovereign, and rejoiced in the happiness she seemed to have despite having so little from my perspective.

I still think of her.  I am moved writing about her- about whether to not I did the right thing to let her go without trying to adopt her.  A girl a mere 8-9 years younger than myself.

Forgive me Lord if I did not act when I should have.  Lord I pray for that sweet girl; that she may know you as a good Father.  That she may find perfect love in you, and that you always saw her even when she was alone.  Lord my heart breaks for that situation she was facing, 6 years ago this time of year.  I pray I never forget her. Amen.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Day 11: When I evaluated student performance...

     When I was a teacher, I was able to evaluate many different kinds of students with a range of abilities.  Some students worked up to their potential, but others did not.  Some made good grades, and others did not.  There was not always a correlation between the two groups.

     I had students in my regular education history classes who worked hard, made progress, enjoyed learning, and made average grades.  I was very proud of them & all they had achieved.  On the flip-side, I had students in the IB courses who did not work as hard, made good grades, and achieved little over the course of the year.  Of course I was still proud of their achievement, but not in the same way.  To see a student work hard & make progress is amazing, encouraging, motivating to a teacher.  It is what I would wish for all of my students, regardless of ability.  To see a student get by without applying themselves left me feeling that I had not pushed them hard enough.

     Now as a momma, I find my judgement on my son's ability inadequate.  I am not familiar with the standards for his age or grade level.  I am not aware of how he compares to his classmates.  I receive no feedback from his teacher to let me know how he is doing.  I find myself wondering after looking over his first interim report, which basically just said he's not struggling in anything, if he was doing well.  I can tell from the work that comes home that he seems to be completing all the tasks appropriately, but again, I have not basis for comparison or rubric to compare it.

     As I have watched my nieces who are a few years ahead in school, I have been able to talk about 'successfulness' with my sis-in-law who was a superior student whereas I was a high achiever.  She is an amazing comfort for me to watch how she navigates these early years.  We discuss how to remind ourselves that although we achieved high grades & were very successful in school, it does not dictate our children's path.  We of course can help, be involved, and equip our children to do their best, and we can try to provide the best choice for their educational needs.  We can celebrate their achievement at whatever level they attain.

     I do not know yet what level of achievement my sons will attain.  I do not know if they will have any significant struggles in their academics, or if they will be placed in honors tracks.  I do not want to assume their path will be the same as mine was, or try to make it look the same.  As their momma, I hope I can remind myself of what it was like to watch my students achievements, and use the same scale for my sons.  If they are working hard & doing their best, then I will be very proud of their accomplishments, no matter what grades they bring home.

I may need to remind myself of this as we go along; Lord you know my perfectionist heart.  Please keep me from placing that burden on my sons. Amen.


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Day 10: When I consider how to balance letting go & protecting...

     I've known for a long time that I am a personality type who likes control of my own environment. It can be both a strength & a weakness depending on how it is applied.  I know it is a strength when it comes to organization, planning, budgeting or other concrete activities.   For the most part, I can control the outcomes based on my input.  But not with parenting.

     I am a hands on momma.  I like to protect, and I like to control the environment that my children are in if I can.  If I cannot, I choose that environment carefully, and I send them off in the faith that I've made a good choice for their care.  We do the same thing for any activity or outing we take with our children, but school is challenging.

     At school, I have no control.  To illustrate my point, an example: my son played soccer this past Spring, and we discovered he was prone to migrate headaches and vomiting if he became too dehydrated.  I realized one hot afternoon that my son was in PE class during a hot portion of the day, outside.  I asked him that afternoon when he came out of school red faced & sweating if he was able to stop and have some water.  Of course, I sent him in with a note to his coach letting her know he needed to stop & drink.  She graciously responded.

    The school did a fundraiser where the students run laps to raise donations per lap.  My son came home in certainty that he had to complete the 2 mile run in order to 'win'.  He wanted to get the prize they were giving away, which was only natural.  So we come to watch him run for the event, & he's full on running.  I worried, tried to encourage him to stop for water, asked him to take a break, and generally worried that on this hot afternoon my boy would dehydrate & throw up.  He ran the whole 2 miles, and he was pleased as punch that he had 'won' the race.  Bless him.

     Ok, so at this juncture I ask myself these questions: Am I a 'worrier'?  Am I overly concerned, even fearful to let my son go, try, and possibly fail?  Does my instinct to protect become overbearing?  I didn't see many other mommas who looked like they were as concerned as I was about their kids.  Am I holding on too tight? ((fighting for control?))

     I don't know the answer yet.  I'm afraid to let him go, let him get hurt, allow pain or suffering that could have been prevented.  I think I need to let go more than I have before.  It may be that a running fundraiser in FL Fall 80+ degree weather has pushed me in the direction in need to migrate.  I'm not ready to put my trust in his school, his teachers, his gym coach, but I guess I need to try.

     Also?  My boy really surprised me.  He is competitive & strong willed & stubborn & ran two miles!?!  I did not know he could do that, and I'm proud to be able to watch it happen.

Lord please give me wisdom.  Help me to hold tight & protect when I can, but teach me to give freedom to him, to trust you ultimately for his life.  Help me let go of my control when I need to without feeling so helpless.  Lord protect my son; keep him safe.  Amen.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Day 9: When I realize how meaningful the relationships become...

     I grew up moving every 4-5 years, which did not leave much opportunity for me to have long term relationships with people in one town.  When I lived in South Carolina, our moves were close enough to maintain some friendships, but many were lost to distance.  It seems incredible to me that I have lived in this one small town now for just over 6 years, split in two parts, which leaves me at living as a part of this community for over 9 years now.

     I am now learning the value of relationships and seeing how they change over time.  My former students have now become friends, become neighbors, become babysitters, and become very special to me.  There aren't very many of them compared to other teachers who have much longer careers than mine, but I think there are somewhere around 400-450 former students of mine out there.  Their parents have become sweet friends and even educators in my son's life.  I've gotten to watch from afar as they graduated from college, find careers, get married, and have their own babies.  I've been able to run into former students at the grocery store and out to eat here in town.  It is an honor to be a witness to someone's life for that length of time.

     I didn't know the value of long term acquaintance relationships until the last few years.  Not that I viewed people as unimportant, but I simply did not know how valuable even people you don't know well can become to you later in life.

     As a mother, I wonder about what it would be like for my boys to grow up in a town where they have lived their whole life.  How they may learn at a much younger age the importance of people, and how you never know when or how people come back into your life.  I've been able to learn through my life experiences how to make friends easily, but not how to keep friends for a long time.  I hope to teach that lesson to my boys if I can.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Day 8: When I made mistakes as a teacher...

     I think when you make a mistake in our culture, if you are in authority over someone else, you don't apologize.  In many environments, it is viewed as weakness.  I know as a teacher, I encouraged students to let me know if I made a mistake grading their work, and I would give them credit for it if I agreed with their evaluation.

     It was relatively easy to look at a multiple choice test where I marked an answer incorrect by mistake.  It was more difficult to look at an essay & try to explain to a student what was missing in their answer.  I tried to include the feedback when I graded the paper, but there were times when I awarded more credit after reviewing it again, and times when I did not.

     I made a bad judgment call during my first year of teaching, and for that I did apologize to the students involved as well as my administration.  I awarded extra credit for students in any of my classes who dressed up as a historical character for Halloween.  I also dressed up, and I gave out extra credit to students if they could name who I was.  One year I was Evita, and I wore a blond wig.  One year I was a famous nun from Mexican history called Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, and I wore a nun's habit costume.  My first year of teaching, I had a student who dressed up as Hitler.  He was punched by another one of my students in the lunch room.

     I do take responsibility for the lack of understanding on my part.  I did not anticipate that I should have made some historical villains off limits, but I certainly learned my lesson.  I did not anticipate that a student would feel so strongly about Hitler that he would take personal offense to the costume.  I find him as abhorrent as many other brutal dictators, and it was an honest mistake on my part to be blind to the emotional connection others would have.  I apologized to the student who was punched for not anticipating that his costume would be negatively received, and I apologized to the student who punched him because I did not intend to cause him emotional distress.  It was ironic that both of them were my students, because the offended student was angry at 'that teacher' who approved the costume.  It was me.  Epic teacher fail.  There wasn't a whole lot I could do to fix that mistake, except offer my sincerest apologies.

     As a mother, it is easy to use my authority over my sons to discipline them in a way that may leave them bitter.  I do my best to apologize when I make a mistake, yell in anger, or use my words to harshly.  I make sure to differentiate between the apology for my own sin and the guilt they still have for theirs.  'Mommy may have been wrong to yell, but you were wrong to disobey and for that you still deserve punishment'.  I am thankful for the Biblical teachings that show me I am not without fault, and therefore I should seek forgiveness as well.  Despite the cultural appearance of 'weakness' in offering apology, I am grateful to demonstrate my humanity to my sons as I did with my students.  I know it was harder to extend the apologies to students, as they did not always forgive me!  I am grateful that while my sons are small, we can practice forgiving each other & mending our broken fellowship.  I pray it carries into their adult conflict-resolution skills as well!


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Day 7: When my son's teacher doesn't live up to my expectations...

     To begin, at the end of preschool, my son was so excited about going to kindergarten, he didn't want to have a summer break.  He was disappointed that he had to wait so long to go to school.  We talked about it all summer long, and when his first day of school came, he was filled with excitement. I made cinnamon rolls for a special breakfast that morning, but he told me he was too excited to eat it.  "I'll save it for after I go to school mom."

     My expectation for him starting kindergarten was that he would love it.  He was never in trouble during preschool, and seemed to do well even in scenarios where his classmates were struggling.  I did not anticipate that he would get in trouble, let alone get in trouble multiple times a week.  I did not anticipate that one morning he would refuse to go to school.  His one&only tardy for school, because he generally does great in the morning getting ready for school, came from that morning.  I convinced him to get dressed, get in the car, and get to school, but he would not get out of the car.  He literally cried about it for over an hour total.  I'm not sure how we were able to resolve it; God's grace.  I told him he was not being nice to me, and he was hurting my feelings.  He got out of the car.

     I had an expectation for him to love kindergarten.  I am still hoping he will.  I think he's settled in now, overcome his fears of not knowing any friends, and he is finally learning all the rules his teacher wants him to follow.  I think he has settled out, and I am so thankful.

     His teacher is just as tough on the kids as ever, but he has managed to learn how to avoid getting in trouble, or as he calls it, 'being bad'.  I try to correct him & encourage him that everybody makes mistakes, and it is ok to make a mistake or forget.  I'm not sure he hears me.  My husband&I are proud of him for figuring out how to get along with her system.  He was disciplined one day for 'putting his hands on another student' at recess, which he explained to us was tickle-freeze-tag.  He came home this week & said his friends wanted to play that game again, but he told them they weren't allowed to & suggested they play superheros instead.  Kinda broke my heart & made me proud of him at the same time.

     I've shifted in my response to the teacher's notes of his 'poor behavior' over time.  I see her system as unrealistic to expect kindergarten students to make zero mistakes in order to be awarded a 'you had a good day sticker' which is the only report we receive.  I now find myself upset with the teacher, not my son when I receive his calendar with no sticker & a discipline report.  Why does she have to be so hard on my son, and why can't kindergarten be easier for him&me?

     I have arrived at a surprised conclusion today: I must forgive his teacher for not meeting my expectations.  She is not what I would have chosen, but the Lord chose her for my son this year.  I've walked into her room now weekly to volunteer, and my impression of her is she is a lovely, but tough teacher.  Not always clear on the situations, which leads to poor judgement and dispensing of discipline in my humble opinion, but I trust she does her best.  I must forgive her for not helping him love school, and try to do my best to accomplish that goal.  I must forgive her for not always getting it right, because I don't always get it right either.  I must forgive her for being hard on my tender-hearted boy, and I must be able to look her in the eye.  I can focus on being grateful for her hardwork & time given to his class.  I can be thankful for her- because she is my son's teacher.

Lord help me forgive her for not meeting my expectations.  Help me be gracious in my interactions with her & teach me to be thankful for her.  Please let me teach my sons how to be graceful to others, despite what they do or don't do.  It's your grace Lord, please help me to give it away.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Day 6: When I had parent-teacher conferences...

     I did not have many parent-teacher conferences when I was teaching high school.  For the most part, if parents had a serious issue that they wanted to discuss between themselves, their child, the counselor, the IB coordinator, and myself THEN they would schedule a conference.  Similarly, I did not call for conferences except in similar circumstances.  Conferences were a big deal- this is my frame of reference.

     My mother did a very good job teaching me as a young adult about conflict resolution skills.  They came in incredibly handy when I had to deal with some parent-teacher conferences where the environment was hostile or there had been some kind of painful misunderstanding.

     For example, I employed all my best conflict resolution skills during a conference with a senior who had plagiarized off the internet.  It was a 'big deal' because of the program she was enrolled in and it carried certain ramifications; therefore, it was handled very carefully by myself and administration.  The evidence against her was irrefutable because she had copied & pasted from an internet source.  During the meeting with the principal, the IB coordinator, myself, and the counselor, her parents berated me.  They called me unqualified.  They tried to blame me.  They actually got angry with me for 'calling her a cheater', which was one point I wanted to share.  I answered them, "No, I have not called your daughter anything.  I have her assignment here, and here is the website from which she pulled her information.  They are identical.  She is not the author of the website; therefore, she submitted work that was not her own."

     I remember my superiors commending me for handling a difficult situation with a parent with a calm, unemotional, logical response.  She of course was guilty, but the personal attacks against me were unfounded.  I was so thankful for my mother's advice on how to view a situation, without name calling or blame shifting or other unhelpful emotional responses.  To correctly diffuse a high emotion situation, one must step back from it & explain it as simply as possible.  In that case, she was a cheater- but it would NOT have helped for me to call her that.  It would have escalated an already uncomfortable situation.

     My son has not had any parent teacher conferences yet.  I am already understanding more&more what it feels like to have to come into a meeting as a stranger to a room full of professionals who hold power over your child & his school experience.  I have met with our school's principal already, yes, already to discuss some simple ideas & concerns I was having for my son.  I truly do not desire to be a mother who 'fixes' all the problems for my son, because I know he will learn valuable lessons if I do not.  I do desire to have a voice & be involved in helping his experience in school be wonderful, if possible.

Stay tuned... Can a school experience be wonderful; is that possible?  My expectations as a parent could be totally misguided, and I will explore that tomorrow.  Hopefully, I can continue to employ my conflict-resolution skills as the parent on behalf of my son to navigate these school waters.  I think as hard as it was to be a teacher in the parent-teacher conference, it will be harder for me to be the parent.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Day 5: When I think about my worst memory as a teacher...

     I have an easy answer to the question: what is my worst memory of my short teaching career?  vandalism.  I suppose I only wander down this avenue off memory lane because of the retrospective point of view of 'what was the best & worst'.  I had the same portable classroom all 3+ years at my school, and I was a victim of vandalism 3 times.

     The worst of the all 3 times was because I couldn't tell if it was personal or not.  The attack felt personal, but at the same time I had no reason to believe any of my students would behave in such a way.  I simply had no suspects or reasons to think it was a student from my class.  However, it is something I still am unsure of to this day.

    What I remember about that day is the feeling of giving up, of 'how do I clean this up', of why would anybody do this, of why did they pick me?  My room was vandalized that time with a kind of spray foam- the kind that seals things up really well.  I remember the back door to my room was sealed shut & had to be opened somehow.  I think the janitors or school staff fixed that for me.  I remember the desks being dirty- the whole room being dirty.  It just came back to me- they dispensed the fire extinguisher off in my room.  It was everywhere & covered every thing.

     I remember my neighbor coming over to console me.  She helped me start cleaning the desks up & she helped me feel like it wasn't a hopeless cause.  I know she is a bright light in my memories of teaching- she teaches English like I had never seen before & I honestly wished I could take her class. A brilliant, vivacious, extraordinary woman who taught her students with great passion.  She is an unsung hero who lives in many students' memories I'm confident, and she continues to inspire today.  Thank you my dear friend- I loved working alongside you!

I had to teach students that day.  I wiped off their desks and seats with some 409 & paper towels, and we did out best.

     I remember being angry because I had a coffee mug on my desk that said "Good Morning" on the side, and it was filled up with my spare pencils & some random paperclips & foam sealed shut.  I will never forget one of my students who was in the lacrosse club I sponsored coming in & helping me fix that cup.  I would have thrown it away as a lost cause, but he was kind.  He found some way to clean out that foam seal stuff & gave me back the cup.  I don't remember many other details about that day, but I remember being so thankful for his kindness.  It was probably the main reason I didn't believe I was a target of one of my own student's malice & discontent.

I share this worst story because it had nothing to do with my job really.  I don't think it is a unique occurrence, because I know it happened to me multiple times on different levels.  But really, I think it just hurt the worst because it felt like a violation of all I gave away on a daily basis.  The overtime hours I worked, the volunteer activities I participated in, the personal time & money I freely gave to my students.  It felt like someone saying, "see? none of what you do matters.  See how easily it can be destroyed."

The truth though?  Is that was a lie.

     What I take away from that day was those impactful moments of kindness & love from a fellow teacher & a student of mine.  They will always be special to me & I won't give that up.  I had a really bad day, but I keep in my heart & mind the positive feedback from them.  I mattered & I could get up and keep going.  I thank the Lord for those two individuals who He used to speak life back into me in a day that was full of sadness.  Being a teacher is hard, but being a teacher is painful when you care deeply for those in your classes and around your school.  You open yourself up to rejection & sometimes you are rejected.  But the offer extended is valuable, and I'm thankful to the Lord that He uses even the bad things to make beautiful memories.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Day 4: When I have to entrust my son...

     Yesterday I ended with the conclusion: "I simply did not know how hard it is to be a parent and trust a teacher with your child."  Today, I would like to take that one step further.

     In whom do I place my trust when I send my son to school?  I place my trust in my car to transport us there; I trust the safety patrol to watch over my son as he waits for the bell to ring; I trust the school administration to keep his school safe; I trust his teacher to know where he is at all times during the day; I trust the school staff to work as a team to supervise, guide, and protect all the students including my son.  Ultimately: I place my trust in the Lord, in whose hands my son is held.

     I believe the distinction is important to make because although I am forced to trust a teacher, whom I do not have basis for the trust (other than the confidence of the school in the teacher), I struggle to let go of my control in his life.  Although I do not have any control over his day during the school hours, I know the Lord does.  I can trust the Lord because he is faithful; He is trustworthy; He has proven himself worthy of my trust over&over again in my life.  He tells me I can trust Him with my son, and he is far safer in the Lord's hands than in mind.

     I can trust that the Lord placed my son in the class he is in.  I can trust that he is in the school for a reason.  I can trust that the Lord is in control, no matter what happens to my son.

     I would like to clarify one point: I pray for wisdom to know what choices I can make that will be in my son's best interest.  I am not implying that I simply 'let all the chips fall as they may' or that I 'leave it up to fate' because that is not the case.  I place my active trust in the Lord's guidance & wisdom, and I know that I cannot always know the Lord's plans for my son.  The Lord's plans for my son may be different than my own, but I am confident that His are better.  I strive to be able to achieve balance when I feel the desire to orchestrate his entire experience (which let's be honest, I would love to do!).  I know that with the Lord's help, I can do my part to help guide my son through his school career.  I have been given a great responsibility in watching over my son, and I want to do the best job I can.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Day 3: When my former student's mother became my son's librarian...

     By far the most embarrassing & humbling scenario so far has been greeting one of my former student's mother & being unsure of her reaction.  I had known that if my son went to a certain school here in town, the librarian there is a lovely, quirky lady whose son was in my class my first year of teaching.  I really had no idea if I would find favor with her, or if she would treat me with contempt honestly!

     My first year of teaching was a rough one for me.  I was only 22/23 years old, and I was unprepared for the course I was teaching.  It is pretty difficult to BE prepared in general for a course where you write the curriculum, so it wasn't that I was unfit for the job.  The first year is always the hardest for a course of that nature!  The second year I taught the course, I taught all the same material from my first year + an additional quarter of new material.  The opportunity to re-teach the same material over again, add to it, recycle test materials, and fix the things that didn't work the first time made the course far superior (and more difficult as well for the students).  I wanted to give the students what they needed & deserved to have, and in my own estimations, that meant if I wasn't an expert at the subject, then I needed to make them learn as much as I could to give them the best opportunity at passing!

     So: my first year teaching.  I had a few students that year that are very memorable to me, one of them was the librarian's son.  Without going in too much detail about him or his performance in the class, I just want to explain that he was a nice, smart fella whose personality could fill the room.  He didn't do exceptionally well in the class, but had a good attitude about his grades & seemed to be content in that regard.

Set the stage for me: questioning if the librarian approved of my tough grading scale & whether or not she had been happy with his performance in the course.  I would not have been surprised if many parents had the opinion that I should have made the course easier & graded less strictly.  Therefore how would I be received?

     The best part of this story: his mother made me a Christmas present, a gingerbread house with my name on the roof.  It was my first and only Christmas gift that I remember, and at the time I didn't fully appreciate how special it was.  I'm glad that I had the opportunity to tell her thank you recently, even all these years later!!

     So I believe she doesn't dislike me.  After seeking her out to say hello & explaining who I was, she seemed happy to see me.  Or at least found it entertaining or amusing!  I know I turned red in the face during our initial reunion, and again the following day.  I went back with the boys to the school library during open house because my oldest was so excited to check out a book, and we were able to see her again.  I was able to thank her for the ginger bread house, and she told me if I had only known how hard it was for her to convince her son to carry it to school!! :-)  My heart swells to think about it, and after she encouraged me to come & volunteer in the library, I felt much more at ease in the conclusion that she did not dislike me.  My embarrassment was eased, and I now find the entire situation incredible.

     One lesson I have learned in hindsight from this experience was that I did not make it a goal to please the parents or be well liked.  I now see that making some kind, any kind of effort to extend curtesy to the parents could have made a difference.  If I were to teach again, I believe I would have made some small efforts to communicate with the parents in order to foster a positive relationship, where I did not make any efforts in the past.  I did not seek to displease them or purposefully treat them as unimportant, but rather I focused on the students because I simply did not know how hard it is to be a parent and trust a teacher with your child.  

Thank you to all the parents who trusted me, whether they 'liked me' or not.  Thank you for treating me with respect and curtesy even when I pushed your children hard to make them better.  I hope for the most part, the parents of my former students approved of the classes I taught & were proud of what their children accomplished.  I truly hope I did not offend or leave lasting negative impressions in anyone's mind, but I do know that could be possible.  I am grateful for the time teaching all my former students, and I hope their parents knew or had an idea of how hard I worked for them.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Day 2: When I was a teacher...

     I was tough.  I loved the academic part of teaching.  I've always loved to learn more detail about different topics, and I could endlessly learn new thing when teaching History.  I taught for the International Baccalaureate program, and as the senior year teacher was able to compile & chose what topics I wanted to teach to my students from the extensive list of choices.  I had no textbook for that course; I bought different college textbooks, resources, commentaries, and created my own reference materials.  The program offered some guidance on what questions would be asked & rubrics of the best answers.  I wanted to make sure I gave my students the every opportunity to score as many points as possible, and probably taught them more than they needed for the sake of being thorough.

     For those students, my gift to them was to push them to learn, grow, become a better writer.  To work myself like crazy grading their papers, studying to prepare lessons on topics I had never studied in depth before.  I taught the History of the Americas, and I did not have an extensive background on Latin American or Canadian History.  I am at my core a rule follower, and graded them based on the rubrics that would be used to grade their finals.  I did not award points for 'trying' really, because it didn't help my students become better.  I did not hesitate to award poor grades for work that was sub-par, and I did not feel that was inappropriate.  In my opinion, it is a disservice to the students to award them 'feel good points' on topics which they will later be graded rigorously.  I awarded 'feel good points' for small weekly assignments or for wrote memory work.  I wanted to award 'good grades' to my students, but I did not give all my students an A.  Very few of my students earned those As!

     My regular ed classes I treated slightly differently, but not much.  They did not write extensively, but rather were challenged to learn the material in their text books & apply it in a more standardized test application.  In their class, I had them read out loud so they could learn to be more confident in how the textbook presented the materials.  We created a 'word of the day' which I would let them chose from the text, we would define it on the board, and I would create & laminate a small poster of that word to hang around the room like a border.  I awarded extra credit on all their tests for sentences they wrote using a word correctly.  My goal for them was to not feel the material was 'too hard' but rather to empower them in thinking all they had to do to understand it was try & take it bit by bit.  I taught them to outline the text & take notes.  Wow, for my 'easier' class, I'm sure my students may not have felt they had it easy.

     I think it is important to outline the style of teacher that I was, because it sets the stage for seeing how I could not have been my students' 'favorite teacher' because I was tough.  I did not become their friends in class as a goal, nor did I ever connect with them outside of class or coaching.  I cared for my students; I cared about helping them succeed in their goals, whether it be earning college credit or being more fluent reading & studying the text.  I very rarely saw 'trouble students' in my class, but maybe that is just my memory?

     As a very young teacher, who started out at 22 years old fresh out of college, I worried about being taken seriously as an authority figure.  I set myself apart very deliberately, and perhaps to a fault, in order to protect myself in a world where we see in the news all the time that teachers are not always trustworthy.  I wanted to be above reproach in that arena, and I purposefully distanced myself from my students.  In hindsight, I did begin to wonder some years later, how it would have been different for me if I had not?  Although I still believe it was a very sensible & cautious position for me to take.

I cannot wait to walk through more of my memories- I am amazed at what I have really been able to recall when I stop & picture my classroom.  I can see my desk, my file cabinets.  My white/chalk board, my 'word of the day' border, my desk arrangement, my maps of random places, my Salvador Dali wall calendar, even my computer & desk calendar.  Oh my planner!!  How I loved planning out my lessons & organizing myself.  I'm hilariously type-A.

Thanks for reading today.  Blessings!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Day 1: Intro to Reflections of a Teacher.turned.Momma

Welcome!  I am looking forward to participating in the #write31Days challenge hosted by this year.  This is my 3rd series, and I cannot wait to see where it takes me!  Thank you for reading, and feel free to send comments my way.  :-)

     This year my oldest son started kindergarten.  It has launched me into some interesting reflections on my own teaching career: how it impacted me, how I impacted others, things I now remember after walking through his school, and more.  It is a strange feeling to be on the other side of the desk, to be a visitor in the halls.  I am not in charge, and it is hard to accept.

     I have always been a firm believer in self-evaluation, and I know when I was teaching, I continually was striving to do my best for my students.  Now, in hindsight, the self-evaluation is coming from many other angles: how did my students perceive me?  What do they remember?  Did their parents like me?  What did I do (if anything) to be likable?  Because 'being liked' wasn't my main goal, but rather teaching the students and challenging them to work hard & know more & grow was my goal.  I know my classes were tough, but it was my gift to my students: it would have been easier for me to teach an easy class!

   I love running into my former students around town, and it is one of the blessings of small-town-life!  It is such a joy to see them now, hear what they are doing & where they are living, hear their memories of our time together in class.  I never cease to be amazed.  The clarity of hindsight has given me new perspective on what I thought mattered, and what inevitably mattered the most.  I cannot wait to take the time & metal breaks to explore my memories.

I hope that gives you an idea of what to anticipate in this series.  Check back at the top tab to see a table of contents for this series.  Thank you for reading!



September, you came&went so quickly!  Our month was spent getting getting the hang of the new school routine, going to t ball practice, and playing hard.  I expected the boys to get home from school, especially James, and be tired.  But no!  They come home & play harder than I've seen them play.  It's fun to watch them unwind, get all wrapped up in their play, and enjoy being together.  And quiet time for the 'big boys' has included a little tv time which lets momma lie down.  I am so grateful for our new season, even when it isn't what we expected.

Grammy&Papa invited all the grandkids to the Clemson game over Labor Day weekend, so we packed up & went!  We were so excited to go back up for a game, it had been 10 years for me!  Our car was loaded up with our 3+1, and they all looked so sweet in their Clemson gear!  Thanks Grammy&Papa!!  We hit some traffic/parking trouble, but everybody was a good sport & we had fun time being together in tiger town!

Our Clemson cheering section!  Only they didn't love the cannon fire... which was unfortunate because it was a high scoring game, haha!

The cousins loved being together & their favorite thing to do is play in the creek. :-)

Gotta get cleaned up!  Papa was glad to help.  Love Calvin's little face!!  Thanks for the fun visit; we had a blast!

These two boys love going to school together.  Calvin has started to love going to 'his cwass' to play with his friends.  It is fun for me to watch them enjoying these preschool days together.  I'm so glad our preschool is a familiar place for us this year and has come easy.

Elementary school had a special 'Grandparents Lunch Day', and James was so glad that his Mimi&Grandpa were able to come up!  The boys all loved having play time, taking them to t ball practice, and we even went bowling on our rainy Saturday.  We had a blast; thanks so much for coming up!!

September we saw James loose his second tooth!  He couldn't sleep one night because it was nearly all the way out, so he asked momma to pull it.  He was so excited to get his second dollar from the tooth fairy.

James got a little creative in the kitchen & started making 'desserts' for his grandparents & brothers.  This one was my favorite: Yogurt topped with a Darth Vader cookie, cow dummies, and raisins.

Before we took down our castle decorations, we got some pictures of our brave knight Hayden & his fellow knights.  Mimi made the adorable knight shirts, but with all the fun of the party in the pool, we didn't get our knights to wait for pictures.  Good thing we were slow to take down our castle. ;-)

My second trimester is going well, but I'm tired.  I've caught a cold or two, and one morning when daddy could take James to school, I rested in & Hayden came to help me feel better.  It is so sweet to see my boy take care of his momma.

James & Hayden's game of knights...

The sunshine hits our table & it helps me reflect on how how beautiful some of our moments are - in the same way the beauty of watching my sons run the bases.  One on his way to first, one on his way to home plate, one waiting to run, and one more yet to run.

Here are me & baby boy #4:  21 weeks & counting...

National Park free admission day!  We took our guys to the fort in St. Augustine & loved getting out of the house after being down with colds and fever.  It was a beautiful fun afternoon.

So long September, the snuggles were lovely.  The my goofy boys had some slow mornings... but we are all warming up to some cooler weather & the shortening of the days.

Thank you Lord for getting us used to our new routine.  Thank you for helping us find rest in sickness, find peace in the days that feel chaotic, find hope in your new mercies.  Thank you for memories made with our family, near & far.  Thank you for our baby boy & all he brings.  Thank you for our changing season, help us to draw close to you when we feel the troubles getting big.  Thank you for all the beauty in our lives that we can save & cherish as our boys grow.  Amen.