Saturday, August 30, 2014

Day 241: Old

Today I am riding in a car with my aunt and uncle and cousin to a city about 6 hours away.  We're all migrating there for another cousin's wedding and I am going stag.
No husband.  No children.


Actually, the whole weekend is so time-warpy.  First of all, I'm totally riding out in the back seat with my teenage cousin, who I think is super rad, but could totally be one of my students.  Then I am hanging out with a dear friend from my past that I haven't seen in AGES - my roommate from the first time I went to Northern Ireland.  And then, because I won't have a car, my parents are going to have to pick me up for the wedding - which they are probably just realizing as they read this.

It's like I'm 20 again.

But I'm excited.  The boys have other adventures planned in Michigan (because we NEVER go there), and I will miss them since this is my second weekend in a row without them (and my third weekend this month away from home).

Have a good weekend!

Today I am thankful for opportunities that surprise me. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Day 240: Student

Today after class I had a student stay after just a tiny bit after her friends left to share some encouraging words with me.  I sat at my desk amazed as an eighth grade girl gave me generous and genuine affirmation.  Her words were kind, and I could tell she was nervous saying them.

But she said them. 

I wonder if I would have had the courage to compliment even my very favorite teachers that way at any age during school.

Such a brave and gracious girl.

Today I am thankful for the lovely young people that will some day grow up to be lovely adults. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Day 239: Sleep

I woke up this morning very tired. 

I spent a good portion of last night lying in my bed awake and listening to the sounds of my family sleeping. 

I have never slept far from my children.  In every house we've lived in, I have been able to hear their breathing and rustling from my bed.  It hasn't been intentional, but simply the nature of the places we've called home. 

And last night as I was lying there with my eyes wide open thinking about everything that is going wrong and unfair outside of my four walls I was so thankful for the sounds of their sleeping.  For the deep sighs and coughs.  To have everyone in my family so close. 

Today I am thankful for that.

Day 238: First Year

Being a first year teacher is terrible.  Luckily, I'm not really a first-year teacher. In some ways I definitely feel like I am.  For example, I have to email my mentor at least once a day with operational questions like, "How do I recycle the massive amounts of cardboard in my room?" or "What is PAK?"  I also have to introduce myself to everyone and don't actually know anyone's names with enough confidence to actually call them by name yet. 

But the really tough stuff - the stuff that makes teachers drop like flies after one or two years - that stuff I don't have to suffer though.

When I was a first year teacher I took myself way too seriously.  I demanded respect and took it personally when I didn't get it.  I didn't realize that when a student is mad at you about some ridiculous thing, it is best to just kill it with kindness, rather than try to make it up to them or get mad back.  I didn't know how to laugh at myself.  I especially didn't know how to laugh at myself in front of students. I didn't realize that asking them genuine questions about themselves was more important than having them sit through an entire art project.  I wanted to be cool and aloof.  Now I just want to be silly and kind.

Today I am thankful that I'm not really a first year teacher.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Day 237: Evening In

When we were living in Northern Ireland one thing I missed so so much was being able to come home from work and put on my stretchy pants, pour a glass or wine, and officially call it done.  Because of the nature of our job, we had to continuously go out after dinner to the volunteer house and socialize.  A glass of wine was out of the question if there was any chance at all that we may be going anywhere on site besides our house, and there were never really any "end" hours. 

These past few weeks have been hard on me.  I haven't actually spent an evening at home for a week now. 

But tonight that streak was broken, and here I sit - just having tucked the boys into bed for the first time really in much too long.  (I'm sure Dustin's glad I'm home too.)

Today I am thankful for an evening in.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Day 236: Parents

Tonight I sat through Meet the Teacher Night at my place of employment.  It was long and tiring, but more than anything it was inspiring.

People want their kids to take art.  They want their artistic kids to feel amazing because of their talents.  They want to foster this in them.


Tonight I am thankful for parents that support art.

Day 235: Friendships

I just had the best weekend.

I think I wrote before that I was dreading it - the driving, the being gone from home, the craziness of its timing.

But it was worth it.

These friends I have - are the very best friends in my life.  They know everything I have to offer, and every way I fall short.  And they still love me.

This weekend gave me energy and inspiration.

They gave me love.

I am thankful for this group of women and what they mean in my life.

Day 234: Couch

Today my friends and I did absolutely nothing.

That's not even an exaggeration.  We LITERALLY sat on the couch in our vacation house and talked for hours and hours.  About our kids, about our lives, about our relationships.  Pretty soon 4:00 rolled around and we realized we hadn't eaten lunch.  Then 5:30 rolled around and we realized we hadn't left the house.

We are all mothers that all-to-often are stretched thin beyond measure.

So this completely selfish day was glorious.  A gift.

Today I am thankful for endless conversation without the pressure of agenda.

Day 233: Weekend

Today is Friday and this coming weekend has been weighing on me like crazy this week.  I have spent the last two nights at work late for two separate reasons, am leaving to go up to Michigan by myself (to meet friends) and then will have to be at work late Monday night for Meet the Teacher night.  Guess what, I'm the teacher - which is never as much fun as being the parent in my experience.

So I woke up today with a heavy heart.  I leave in just a few minutes and I'm not looking forward to the long drive by myself.  BUT....

...when I picked my oldest son up from school today he was wearing a huge smile.  In fact, every day I've picked him up from school this week he has been wearing a huge smile.

A record friends.

Today I am thankful for a smiling boy at the end of a school day.  

I didn't know it could be so rare until I was in it.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Day 231 and 232: Yesterday and Today

I am clearly writing this a day after Day 231.  Yesterday was Wednesday.  Yesterday was a hard day.
I wish I could just spew it all out here for all of you to read - mostly because I want you to feel sorry for me, and because I know I would be wrapped in love.  But the truth is that my reality right now is not just my own, but my family's.

When your reality doesn't fall into "normal" it is isolating and terrifying.  It is hard to imagine anyone empathizing without trying to fix.  It is hard to understand how someone couldn't be critical of the way you are handing it, because clearly if you were handling it the right way none of this would be happening.  It is hard to understand how people find the energy to do normal things without fear and dread coursing through their veins.  It is hard to see perfect First Day of School pictures and commentary on social media without it feeling like a swift kick to the stomach.  It is hard to believe that anyone would understand.  Luckily I have people who understand.

Really understand.

Like, "Dude, I'm living it" understand.

And those people are important enough to take up two days of my gratitude - because without them, days like this would be much harder than they already are.

Today I am thankful for those people.

And I promise tomorrow my gratitude is going to start taking a more positive spin.  Well, at least positive-ish.

Day 230: Eager

Starting this new job I had no idea where students would fall in wanting or not wanting art.  Luckily I have been so happy to see that they are so eager.  They are also challenging - but in all the right ways.  They crave art and want to learn more always.  They keep me on my toes.

Today I am thankful to be teaching students who are excited about art.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Day 229: Better

Today I am thankful that the morning went better than every day last week.

Except for that day last Monday when I didn't have to go anywhere and only had one child to take care of.  That day definitely still wins.

Remember summer?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Day 228: Treading water.

Yesterday I ended up getting a few things checked off my list, which was really important for my sanity.

Today I'm thankful for the ticking sound of items being checked off my "to-do" list. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Day 224 - 227: Catch-up

If only I could take a page from this guy's book...
Of course I'm planning catch-up again y'all.  You'll have to forgive me, because I DID start a new job, buy a car, host a book-club, send my oldest off to Kindergarten, freeze a gagillion pounds of vegetables for the winter, and perform two photo shoots. 

And if you think for even ONE HOT SECOND that I had my act together through it all, you obviously didn't see me yesterday morning, this morning, or any afternoon since Wednesday stomping around my house hyperventilating and wondering how I'm going to get more done that I need to.  And of course all while shouting orders at undeserving observers with facial expressions that oddly resemble a deer caught in headlights. It was not pretty.

I'm not pretty when I do that. 

Wait a second.... isn't this exactly what I tried to escape from when I picked up my family and moved away to another country three years ago? 

Oh my word...sing it.

I think I actually forgot how hard teaching is.  I actually thought I could just keep doing all of the things I was doing before, but now I could do it while working full-time. 

Yeah yeah...and you know what? Sign me up for another committee.  That sounds like a fabulous idea. 


That was me banging my head against the keyboard and realizing what an idiot I am.

So starting tomorrow I will learn the word "no". 

No I will not be Freshman Class Sponsor.
No I will not be room mother.
No I will not take that zuchinni off your hands.
No I will not sew you a Veggie Tale costume.

Okay, maybe I'll sew a costume...

But what to be thankful for.  Oh there was plenty...

Wednesday I was thankful for nice, polite, and eager students.
Thursday I was thankful for the fantastically brilliant group of women that make up my book club.
Friday I was thankful that I got to go out to dinner with old friends.
And today I'm thankful for a few days to reflect on how I can do it differently next week.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Now back to photo editing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Day 223: Friendly Faces

Last night I went to bed very sad.  I surprised myself by mourning my old job.  I thought about the predictable inservice I wouldn't sit through, and the dear friends that wouldn't be saving me seats.  Anxiety crept up inside of me as I thought about walking into this new auditorium with not a single friend, but a million empty seats that I had to choose from.  I felt sadness for the inside humor I would have shared with friends over Bloodborn Pathogens, and felt terrified about what I would do during the designated "lunch on your own" time when everyone else had friends to go out to eat with.
I missed my old job last night.

And this morning when I got up I decided it was going to be okay.  No one remembers who sat by themselves on their first day or ate lunch alone in their classroom while everyone else was out at Pizza Ranch.  I knew I'd be okay... albeit sad.

But that wasn't how it went.  Of course I felt awkward 70% of the day, and didn't really know how things worked, or where the printer was, or how to find things like my mailbox. 

But none of that really mattered because people were friendly.  They introduced themselves to me.  They encouraged me.  They went out of their way to make me feel welcome. 

AND I got two invitations to lunch. 

It makes me wonder if in my past job I was as kind and generous and friendly to first-time teachers as these people have been to me.

Today I am thankful for people who stretch to make others feel welcome.

I may have just learned something very valuable from them today.

Day 222: Only

On this beautiful Monday I got to do something so unique and so wonderful that my gratitude is in full effect.  I got to lesson plan.

Just kidding.  I mean, I did get to lesson plan, and the only reason I could do that is because I only had one child.  FOR THE WHOLE DAY.  AND NIGHT.  And tomorrow too. 

I think being a parent of any number of children is scary and hard.  I mean, I assume it is because everyone says so, but I was only a parent of one for approximately eight months, and I was so shell-shocked that I don't actually remember. 

What I can tell you is that when you are used to three under the age of six, having just one little two-year-old seems easy peesy.  ESPECIALLY if it is a two-year-old that never gets to do things on his own without his brothers. 


Today and the next few days my parents have generously offered to keep my oldest boys in Ohio while I get ready for the start of school (something I've been conveniently putting off) and relish in this baby boy for a tiny bit more before he is going to the babysitter full-time. 

It's been pretty much amazing.

Today I am thankful for some one-on-one time with my youngest, and some extra time to get things done.  

My house is still a mess, but at least I have an idea of what the week holds.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Day 221: Celebration

This has been a weekend of celebrations.  Yesterday was my Mom's surprise 60th birthday party that I wrote about, and then in the evening we celebrated my little boy turning 2.  My baby. 

Today I celebrated a dear dear DEAR friend from my high school (and current) days who is expecting her first baby - a little boy.  This afternoon I got to celebrate a cousin who is getting married in just a few short weeks. 

Celebrate.  So many reasons to celebrate.  Sometimes we (I) take it for granted that there is so much good in our lives that we are able to have celebrations.  There are people in the world that go through these same events without the gift of a gathering.

Lucky.  We are so lucky.

Today I am thankful for celebrations.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Day 220: Surprise

This afternoon I got to do something really fantastic - I got to (with the help of others) throw my Mom a surprise 60th birthday party that was truly a surprise.  I got to see her showered with love by her friends from different areas of her life.  Today, in Ohio, she shined.  And unfortunately, I took close to no pictures.  (Photographer fail for sure.)  The rest of our day was filled with things like naps, barbeques, and a certain little boy opening presents.

And today I am thankful that I got to surprise her.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Day 219: Ollie

Dear Oliver,

Happy birthday little boy.  I can't believe I've only known you 2 years, because to me you've been a part of my soul for eternity.

I am thankful for...
...your open-mouthed smile, because it lights up your face and makes you instantly the most beautiful person in the room.
...the way you come out of your bedroom with your blankie to your face like you're halfway hiding from the day.
...the way you chant my name like a cheer every time I come home after being gone.  Reunions are your gift my boy."Mommy! Mommy!  Mommy!"
...when you jump, because it is filled with joy.
...when you run after your brothers roaring, because you are so full of imagination already.
...your wily ways - you are a cunning one dear boy.
...your perseverance.
...your laughter.
...your first words.
...when you say "Iam!" for Liam. you drop everything to dance to Rhianna.

Today I am thankful for you, little boy.

You are fierce, funny, and clever.  People can see it the minute they meet you.
This world was waiting for you Oliver.

I love you forever,
Your Mama.

Day 218: Questions

We live in an outstandingly conservative town/area.  People that know me from other areas of my life sometimes wonder out loud what I'm doing in such a place and we laugh together about things like how I don't have to wait in line during "The Primaries" or how I can't possibly fit into such a place. I think many of my friends have added up experiences from their past and the media to come up with the equation that conservative = intolerance. But the truth is quite the opposite in this tiny place. 

Almost everyday on social media I read about friends that have adopted children, like my oldest, and are asked outstandingly inappropriate questions, or overhear statements that make their skin crawl. 

I hear nothing. 

That doesn't mean it doesn't happen here.  It just means that people are sensitive enough not to ask or say things to me in front of my Korean American son.  Which in itself is pretty amazing when he is still one of the only Korean Americans I've encountered in my small town.  (I didn't say it was perfect.) 

Today I am thankful for the sensitivity of people in our lives.

I don't mind questions.  I just don't want them to make my six year old question himself or the validity of our family.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Day 217: Perfect Timing

Today was one of those days where things were some weird mixture between laid-back and messy and intense all at once.  I still don't quite understand what happened this morning.  Let's just say I was REALLY looking forward to naptime.  (Let's be honest - I'm always REALLY looking forward to naptime.)

It was around 3:00 when all three of my kids were awake and somehow climbing out of bed like naptime was for suckers - which is against my rule that EVERYONE MUST STAY IN BED UNTIL I HAVE HAD ENOUGH TIME TO RECOVER. (which usually translates to no less than 2.5 hours on a good day)

Around 3:10 I relinquished all control over the situation by stomping around my house furiously, trying to get the list of things I hadn't yet accomplished done when I swung open my door to find this sitting in my entryway...

(this is where the angels start singing)

Today I am thankful for surprises.
And the little brother and sister-in-law elves that think to send them.
I'm still trying to figure out what I did to deserve such a sweet package.  While you try to figure it out I'm going to enjoy my third super fancy ice cream flavored chocolate of the night with a glass of wine.  


Day 216: Excited

Tonight I was invited to a formal dinner at my new place of employment where they introduced all of the new teachers and we met the Board of Education and additional Administration.

I'm starting a job at a school that essential has had a dying art program for years.  This may be discouraging for some people, but it is honestly the only reason I applied for the job in the first place.   I find this incredibly exciting.  It may be a long hard road, but I am excited to get in there and to see what these students are craving from an art program.

But that is not what I'm thankful for tonight.

Tonight I'm thankful for the adults in the community that are demanding a thriving art program from their school district.

In the age of cut-backs and lack of funding - where art is one of the first things to go - it is amazing to me that I've walked into a job where everyone I meet is EXCITED that I'm there.  Or that someone is there at all.  They are also excited to see what their students will create.  It's not just the parents, but the administrators and Board Members.  I've got some big people to please.

In some ways it is a lot of pressure to be sitting here knowing that they have placed all of their eggs in my basket.  This is either the beginning or the end.

But here's the thing...with all of us, everyone, this is going to work.  People want this.  I'm just the vehicle.

And that is exciting.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Day 215: Afternoon

This morning didn't seem to go well.  It was hot, I had to haul a bajillion reems of art paper to my new art room from the old art room.  The person I was supposed to meet at my old job came an hour late.  I was still tired from a three hour photoshoot with twins I did yesterday.  And then at around noon I realized that I didn't have to stay and work in a hot classroom. 

I still have the option to leave when I want.

So at noon I called it quits.  I packed it all in and headed home with my boys for naptime.  As I write this two of the three of them are sweetly dreaming in their rooms and I'm planning out the beginning of my school year.

Today I am thankful for the last week of summer.

Day 214: Inspiring

Do you know those people that inspire you just by sitting next to you and being in your presence? 

Today I am thankful that I do.

Day 213: Saturday

Saturdays are amazing - especially when you have absolutely no agenda - which pretty much never happens.

Today I am thankful for a Saturday just like that.

Day 212: Freak Accidents

Tonight Liam fell off of the grocery cart at Costco.  He wasn't in the cart, and I'm not even really sure how it happened, but it sounded awful.  There was a lot of high-pitched screaming for some (many) minutes, and about an hour of whimpering afterwards, but he was fine - no concussion, no symptoms, nothing. 

I realize it really could have been worse.  I realize that freak accidents happen around the world every day.  Things that should not break children, do.

Today I am thankful that we were not the victims of freak accidents.