Saturday, August 31, 2013

Friday Night Leftovers (the Saturday edition)

Happy Long, Labor Day Weekend!
  • It doesn't appear that we will be doing much BBQing (or camping) this weekend - too much rain.  Good news though is we always find something to get into and have fun.
  • Abby & Daddy spent the morning together on a date.  The mission was for Abby to go crazy in Toys-R-Us with her birthday money & gift cards and not have her brother & sister getting in her way.  With a full bag of toys & an empty McDonald's cup from their lunch in her hands, I'd say she had a great time!
  • This summer soccer season has been a wash.  We have been rained out so much that I'm not even sure we have played 1/2 our soccer games.  Add in the poor coaching and I would say it has been a waste.
  • Rumor has it that the first sign of "Termination Dust" has been spotted on the mountains near by.  What does that really mean?  Winter is not too far away.  Damn.
  • We have less than 10 months to go living up here in Alaska.  More to come on that soon!
Sorry so short - my brain is racing, yet nothing is coming to mind.  Enjoy your holiday weekend & don't forget to kiss and hug your loved ones a 1000 times over.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Rainy Alaska Fair

Look who got to have a fun (but rainy) adventure this past week with Hannah
up at the Alaska State Fair!

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Marilyn Jane. 
Little MJ.
On one hand, she is as sweet as Southern Tea.  Her hugs are deep & snuggly.  Her laugh, her giggle & her gap-toothed smile are infectious.
However, she is also one attitudey little girl.
At least 1/2 of everything she does is with a big, bad attitude.  That also means there is an argument about all those things plus more.
Let's review:
  • what she wants to wear, and not wear.
  • which cup she wants her morning hot chocolate in, and which one she does not want.
  • when and what she thinks she wants to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
  • if she wants to sit at the kitchen table and eat, or not.
  • whether she wants to help clean up toys, or not.
  • whether she wants to put her seatbelt on in the car, or not.
  • how and when she wants to share her stuff with others, or not.
You get the idea, right?  Folks, we are seriously dealing with the "Attitudey-Twos".
And we aren't even close to being done.  I'm thinking the pain has just begun.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Talk

Tonight begins a tradition.
I'm going to use this letter to talk with Thomas about having a great year in 1st grade.
But the emphasis is not grades or being the best;
instead, the emphasis is on being grateful, kind and brave.
I plan on have "The Talk" every year on the Night before School starts... for obvious reasons.

Dear Thomas,
Hey, sweet pea.
Tomorrow is a big day.  First Grade -- wow.

Thomas -- When I was in first grade, there was a little boy in my class named Adam.

Adam looked a little different and he wore funny clothes and sometimes he even smelled a little bit. Adam didn't smile. He hung his head low and he never looked at anyone at all. Adam never did his homework. I don't think his parents reminded him like yours do. The other kids teased Adam a lot. Whenever they did, his head hung lower and lower and lower. I never teased him, but I never told the other kids to stop, either.

And I never talked to Adam, not once. I never invited him to sit next to me at lunch, or to play with me at recess. Instead, he sat and played by himself. He must have been very lonely.

I still think about Adam every day. I wonder if Adam remembers me?  Probably not.  I bet if I'd asked him to play, just once, he'd still remember me.

I think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God's gifts to you.

So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one of them.

Baby, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to trust that heartache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heartache. That heartache is called compassion, and it is God's signal to you to do something. It is God saying, Thomas! Wake up! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help! Whenever you feel compassion -- be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you, and that is magic. It means He trusts you and needs you.

Sometimes the magic of compassion will make you step into the middle of a bad situation right away.

Compassion might lead you to tell a teaser to stop it and then ask the teased kid to play. You might invite a left-out kid to sit next to you at lunch. You might choose a kid for your team first who usually gets chosen last. These things will be hard to do, but you can do hard things.

Sometimes you will feel compassion but you won't step in right away. That's okay, too. You might choose instead to tell your teacher and then tell us. We are on your team -- we are on your whole class's team. Asking for help for someone who is hurting is not tattling, it is doing the right thing. If someone in your class needs help, please tell me, baby. We will make a plan to help together.

When God speaks to you by making your heart hurt for another, by giving you compassion, just do something. Please do not ignore God whispering to you. I so wish I had not ignored God when He spoke to me about Adam. I remember Him trying, I remember feeling compassion, but I chose fear over compassion. I wish I hadn't. Adam could have used a friend and I could have, too.

Thomas -- We do not care if you are the smartest or fastest or coolest or funniest. There will be lots of contests at school, and we don't care if you win a single one of them. We don't care if you get straight As. We don't care if the girls think you're cute or whether you're picked first or last for kickball at recess. We don't care if you are your teacher's favorite or not. We don't care if you have the best clothes or most Pokemon cards or coolest gadgets. We just don't care.

We don't send you to school to become the best at anything at all. We already love you as much as we possibly could. You do not have to earn our love or pride and you can't lose it. That's done.

We send you to school to practice being brave and kind.

Kind people are brave people. Brave is not a feeling that you should wait for. It is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.

Trust me, baby, it is. It is more important.

Don't try to be the best this year, honey.

Just be grateful and kind and brave. That's all you ever need to be.

Take care of those classmates of yours, and your teacher, too. You Belong to Each Other. You are one lucky boy... with all of these new gifts to unwrap this year.

Mommy & Daddy love you so much that our hearts might explode.

Enjoy and cherish your gifts.

And thank you for being our favorite gift of all time.

Mommy & Daddy


Monday, August 26, 2013

Another Year Is Upon Us

Wednesday is the first day of school for the youngest kiddos.
Meet our new 1st grader...
And our new PreSchooler...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Shoe-Tie Guy

Yeah... we now have a shoe-tie guy in the house!  
With just 2 days to spare, another summer goal is checked off the list!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Night Leftovers (the BOGS edition)

TGIF... hello.  No, seriously... H-E-L-L-O!
  • Our first week with Hannah on board with the kids was great!  This is exactly what we were hoping for.
  • In just a few short days, I will have a full fledged 1st grader and a Pre-K4er! {Happy Dance}
  • I know I mentioned this yesterday but... being a school administrator is an incredible job and I'm so thankful and blessed to have this opportunity.
  • The downside to this first week school is it has been a mentally & emotionally exhausting one and I am completely spent.  Several things - personal setbacks, tragic student death, a horrific incident involving criminal charges and a family torn apart in my school and probably worst of all... the passing of my 98-year old grandmother.  Prayers are needed for all of these people.
  • On the brighter and more positive side - the sun is shining and I am blessed to have another day with my 3 LoveBugs and the love of my life.
  • Still working on Labor Day Weekend camping plans.  Nothing is in pen just yet.
  • I'm not sure why it has taken me so long (2 years in Alaska) to commit to buying good quality rain & snow boots for my crew.  I've finally taken the plunge and bought each of them a pair of BOGS (combo rain/snow) and we all love them.  Can I get an Amen?
Have a great weekend, friends!  Please hug your loved ones a little closer and tell them how much you love them.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

My first "real" day as an administrator

Yesterday was the first day of school...

I had the opportunity to speak with several hundred different students.

I watched dedicated & committed teachers smile because they are excited for the year.

I was asked at least 15,539 times to help a student find the location of their next classroom.

I reassured several concerned parents that we would take care of their son/daughter at school.

I spoke to a student who told me everything there is to know about music, chords, and orchestra.

I witnessed the 4 secretaries at SHS work in unison while literally "running" the school.

I was reaffirmed that learning the names of as many students as possible is absolutely crucial.  It's all about "connections" and "building relationships" with our students.

I got to eat cold leftover pork chops and a peach for lunch at 9:35am.

I think I helped to solve more problems than I created.

I witnessed shared leadership by several staff members which is totally awesome!

I tried to create an environment where students feel safe, comfortable and welcome.

I realized that being an administrator is truly an awesome job...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Future 1st grade Teacher

Dear Thomas' soon-to-be 1st grade teacher,

I should tell you that you are about to inherit an excited little boy who loves to learn. 
He really is like a sponge. 
Last year, he took quickly to reading & just ran with it.  He also really enjoyed addition, subtraction and learning to tell time in Kindergarten. 
He is so ready to tackle 1st grade & continue to thrive in your class. 
Please challenge him; please set high expectations for him; please help him learn as much as he possibly can; but most importantly, please help us keep his flame of curiosity & love of learning alive.

We look forward to meeting you this afternoon & for a great school year!

Thomas' Mom

Monday, August 19, 2013

Blink - Baby Girl All Grown Up

Just over two years ago, our #3 was born.
I feel like I just blinked and now she is all grown up.
Just shy of 27-months old, Marilyn:
is potty trained,
loves morning hot chocolate,
 loves to be naked,
has an enormous vocabulary,
is actually starting to sing country songs, the ABCs, and other nursery rhymes,
insists on her independence,
usually answers with "NO!",
loves to color with crayons, markers and chalk,
has a new interest in puzzles thanks to her sister,
has started to get the hang of little scissors (supervised of course), 
has crazy, wild morning hair just like her Mama,
has the sweetest laugh and her smile will melt your heart.

I love you...

Snuggling & saying goodnight to Thomas:
T:  I love you, Mom.
M:  I love you, sweet pea.
T:  Well, I love you to the moon & back.
M:  I love you to the deepest part of the ocean.
T:  Well, I love you bigger than the biggest number ever.
M:  I love you more than Cookie Monster loves cookies.
T:  Well, I love you more than Abby loves bacon.
M:  I love you more than I can imagine.
T: I love you so much, Mom.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Family Celebration

9 years ago we started our family.
3 beautiful children later...
... we continue to be blessed everyday through the difficult storms & the sunny skies
that life throws our way.
So what better way to celebrate our anniversary than a night out on the town with all five of us.
Japanese Hibachi was on the menu.
Silly boys - like father, like son.

 Amazed at the show!

 After ice cream & an evening walk... a certain #2 is crashed out in her new back seat spot!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Night Leftovers (words are hard edition)

I'm more than exhausted.  Words are hard to come by this week.  Please accept these random thoughts as my FNLs...
  • Marilyn is potty trained.  Period.  Victory! 
  • On that same note, she is still wearing a night time diaper but she often times wakes up dry.
  • My feet hurt from wearing heels everyday.
  • Because of above mentioned work related condition, I think it's only right that I get a pedicure.
  • If only I had time for a pedicure.
  • Speaking of lack of time, the other day I realized at 4:02 in the afternoon that I had not eaten one. single. thing. all. day. long.  How's that for busy... and poor planning on my half?
  • Today is the last day the kids are in daycare & the summer youth program here on base.  Amen & thank you.
  • I only say that because this just has not been an ideal child care situation for our family.
  • I adore Hannah, our new Nanny.
  • Here's a short description of all day, evening meeting at a different school, admin duty at football game.  I'm pretty sure I will collapse into bed tonight.
  • My AK school suffered a student tragedy this week.  Coincidentally, my FL school also suffered a student tragedy this week.  Two communities grieving the loss of someone they loved.
  • Teachers came back today - a small part of me missed setting up my classroom...
  • ... And my Choctaw crew!

Back-to-school haircut...

... Daddy style!

And might I add, when a certain boy has had only Mohawk haircuts all summer (which means the top was especially shaggy), Daddy cut off a LOT of hair this evening. 
And it was everywhere - hence the facial expression below: