Sunday, April 24, 2011

He Lives!

Happy Easter, Sunday!

I hope you had a special day, celebrating Jesus and His sacrifice of the resurrection. He lives! How wonderful that our Lord is alive and well, giving to us daily hope and strength to run this race called life. I am nothing without His spirit and have no hope in this life without Him; my heart's desire is to dwell with Him in that place called Heaven where I will be able to hold his nail stained hands. Thank you, Jesus, for what you did and continue to do for someone as filthy and unworthy as me!

Harbor is growing by leaps and bounds, acquiring new skills every single day. I really have my precious mother to thank for that. She has taught him to read, though sight words, and he can spell and loosely write his name alone. At 29 months, he amazes even the likes of me! She does a lot of creative play and they create art, much like this, almost every day. After drawing it out together, they discuss the colors, numbers, and names of their pictures. Harbor is just a sponge, soaking it all in.

Another example of their creative play is their ability to turn everyday objects into exciting works of art! My mom will cover cereal boxes with butcher paper and create store fronts. She and Harbor decided on the "menu" and cut out tiny little plates complete with lunch. Mom said she and Harbor spent a few hours serving "lunch" and enjoying it with their animal friends. Harbor's creativity has just skyrocketed and we catch him having imaginative play with everyday objects quite frequently now. Such fun to witness as a mother and teacher!

Rachel is such a fun, God-fearing young woman. The older she gets, the more I confide in her and, often times, seek her council. She is someone I admire greatly, and though we were both raised as only children at home, I feel such a warm kinship with her. We may be almost a decade apart in age, however, she knows me like no other! She is my sister, soul to soul!


Someday soon, I'll trade my work pumps for my house flats and spend every moment raising and training up Harbor William in the way we would have him go. I'm sure he will enjoy wearing flats, too. Who wouldn't? Those heels are killers!  : )

Childhood is meant for happiness, play, and exploration. These are truly the days to remember!

David called me this day to let me know that he had awoke in Detroit to a few inches of snow covering the ground. I laughed and informed him that in the south, it was already in the 80's! Later that day, Harbor wandered into the backyard at my parents' house. He promptly plopped down and hunted for ladybugs. I know the change in weather is going to be a bit of a shock for us, but I am looking forward to snowmen, hot chocolate, and rosy red noses and cheeks. With faces pressed to glass windows, waiting for daddy to pull into the driveway will fill our home with warmth! But, we will always look forward to hot, muggy summer visits to Arkansas, where April brings swimming and sunscreen.

Harbor has really fallen in love with a few movies as of late. He adores Richard Scary and "Busy Town." He also loves any movie with music, including the musical "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." With blanket in tow, he likes to hunker down in pillows and sing along.

Sweet, sweet summer, how we have missed thee! Spring seems like a mysterious stranger in the south in Arkansas. We have a long, hard winter, two days of spring and bam! It is summer in the 80's! Strange weather! We were out of swim diapers, but when a fluke day in the 80's popped up, we took full advantage!

Innocence can be found in these little feet. As his mommy, I know where he treads, I know what he does, I know his every need. How I pray, as his mommy, that I will still be a close friend as he grows older, knowing that his feet trod in places that will fill him with righteous, holy things. That is my prayer!

David and I recently celebrated a decade of marriage. Ten years has come and gone, and while they have been full of hardship and trials at times, I am proud of our commitment to remain true to our vows. Marriage is the hardest work I have known. It takes deep compromise, unselfish acts of kindness, and a prayerful heart to make it a lasting and fulfilling commitment. I know that Satan would love nothing more to convince us that life apart is what is best, but I have hope in the Lord that this marriage has been ordained by Christ and that by living for Him, we are living under His grace.

We married young- I was only 19 and David was 20 by only one month, we waited eight years to have Harbor, have bought and sold four homes, built a home from the ground up, and have started and finished two bachelor degrees. We have vacationed, experienced parenthood, and shared many nights on our knees, seeking God's wisdom. It is hard work, but it is my most proud accomplishment. In a day when people seek their own agendas, there is something powerful in sticking to a person, for better or for worse, promising to seek God's face.

Living apart has lent itself to some gracious gift giving! The beginning of this past week resulted in a fresh white bouquet of hydrangeas, my favorite flower and a flower used in my wedding bouquet, sent to my classroom.

A few days later, a love poem, stolen by a famous poet (grin!) was mailed, handwritten on notebook paper. Though he is an Engineer and not an English major, David has written to me in this way a hundred times before and while he may not always have the perfect words, Shakespeare usually does!

And to top off the romance of the letter and flowers, a beautiful ring was given to me on the very day of our anniversary. Such a special day, despite being states apart! When I wear it, I am reminded that my vow has meaning and when I honor it, I honor my God, by being obedient to my promise to Him.

Today, we attended a joyful Easter Sunday service with family and had a nice family lunch afterwards at my aunt and uncle's home. She had the table decorated so pretty with pink place mats, flowers, and vases full of pastel eggs.  Our conversation naturally turned to Detroit and David, alone, on Easter. This experience has matured my heart- only seeing David three days out of the last 56 has made me realize that family is all that matters in this life, apart from salvation.

Life is not about what happens, it is who you are with when it happens that makes all the difference. I have always been very independent, but I truly have a softer spirit and a more tender hearted approach to David. I miss him and value our time. I'm looking forward to him coming home in seven days! I have one last week in the classroom, but am packed and have removed my personal effects. I am ready!

As a small side note, I have added a poll in the upper right corner of my blog. Feel free to participate! I have realized, from talking to so many of you, that almost half of my blog following comes from those who have no blogs! These are coworkers, family members, and friends in the community who follow, but who have no way to comment, and as we are preparing to move, I wanted to explore the option of adding a few "comment" changes. I also know I have a few hunderd lurkers, but that is okay with me. I lurk on several blogs and am usually too in awe to comment, though I think I may be brave one day and gush at how much I admire several families! Ha!

Have a blessed week! Remember, Jesus lives just for you, and if He had to do it all again, He would suffer and die on the cross, shunned by the world, just for you. Amazing love! Do you know Him?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Note Keeping for Children

This past week was a whirlwind!
 In a single week:

1. My students took their annual Benchmark Exams while I proctored the test, which was around 25 hours of bubble filling and essay writing.

2. We, as a 5th grade, took around 160 students to a local State Park for a sack lunch picnic and a nature walk.

3. We popped enough popcorn by microwave to fill 165 tummies during a movie/popcorn party .

4. I scooped ice cream (three scoops each!) for 165 students for an ice-cream sundae party with lots of yummy toppings. My hands were frozen and my rings were sticky! : )

5. We took our students to a "Faculty Rock Band" concert to celebrate the end of a stressful week! Lots of teachers sing or play guitar and it has become a tradition at our middle school to attend concerts. With all grades, 5-8, attending, it is a packed house!

6. We, as a 5th grade, invited parents to an awards assembly and recognized honor roll, good behavior, character awards, and reading awards for our classes. I love our awards assembly and enjoy having free range on the microphone. Surprised? Naaaa!  : )

On top of a busy week, I have been feeling pressure from the looming deadline of moving. I officialy feel like singing the 80's song, The Final Countdown.

Project 365 has been so meaningful. When I started the first of January, I knew 2011 would be a special year for our family- Harbor will turn three, we recently celebrated 10 years of marriage, and we were house hunting- I just never imagined moving across country to the Canadian border and that David would be working for an up and coming manufacturing facility so far from home. I guess this project has now taken on more meaning. I'm so thankful I've documented this year thus far and look forward to continuing this project as our life is changing before our very eyes.

Harbor and Bichon have become really sweet pals. Though Harbor William can often pester Bichon, they enjoy each other's company. I'm so thankful Harbor has learned early on the value of animal companionship and the etiquette that goes with animal care and kindness. Teaching children the value of a gentle pat early on really helps develop compassion and sympathy overall.

We have several Pottery Barn purchases, thanks to my mother, Karen. One of our favorite gifts from her is Harbor's table and chair set. Made of solid wood and painted a cheery white and granny-apple smith green, Harbor can often be found reading books, coloring paper, and most recently, building tents. With Gigi helping, his PB chairs are the perfect tent stakes. He is all boy and I love his sense of adventure.

While I'm at work developing lesson plans to match state standards, checking frameworks and student learning expectations, and analyzing data to see which students are not grasping my material, I'm so thankful Harbor is at home with Gigi. My mother has a wonderful sense of "play" and often reminds me that his play is his work. She keeps a spotless home, organized and comfortable, but still encourages play, messes, and exploration. I love learning from her example. Homes should evolve and expand as our families do, too!

Harbor attends several Christian day programs for a few hours each week, and we enjoy seeing his hard work. I have a system in place for saving and displaying his work, and hopefully, once we get settled in our new home and I am able to resituate my craft room, I can give you some pointers on how to save work, knowing what to save and what to trash, and ways to display. Yes!  Our new home does have a nice nook for crafts. Though I know it will land on the bottom of the priority list, knowing I have a place to escape to makes me very happy.

Harbor is currently 29 months old, can sing all of his ABC's, count to 20, knows all of his colors without fault, can sing a multitude of songs, and has a great grasp on reasoning skills. He has fabulous fine motor skills and is able to reason and bargain. For a late talker, which he certainly was, he is speaking well enough to hold a conversation. He speaks in 4-6 word sentences, and while he is very quiet, very laid back, and very introverted, he does talk when the mood hits him. He actually reminds me of David in so many ways. 

I joke with my close friends at work that maybe I should only have one child. As a teacher, many families tell me that their first born is nothing like their siblings, meaning, the siblings are usually more challenging. Teaching for six years, I have many sets of siblings come through my classroom doors. Harbor has been such an easy, low maintenance child. He plays independently for hours. He requires very little interaction, and although we play with him, is as happy as a peach to build blocks, read books, and make train depots alone for hours. Can lightning strike twice? Ha, ha!

My weekends consist of grading papers, packing, and painting. I've been refurbishing a few pieces of furniture for the new house. This bench was given to me by my mom and was painted a yellow with black speckle (do you remember the 80's trend of using a toothbrush to speckle color?) I plan on using this bench in Harbor's new room. With new paint and a black and white hounds tooth fabric for a seat, it will really look sweet at the foot of his twin bed. I'll be sure to post pictures when it is finished.

If you recall, I bought three identical birthday albums for less that $50.00 at a local "this and that" kind of hodge-podge shop. I have been saving Harbor's birthday memorabilia, like most mommies do, with the plan of doing "something" with them. I loved these albums because:
1. They were bright, cheery, and happy albums! The colors didn't lend themselves to either gender and would work well for both boy and girl.
2. They are premade, with pockets for cards and loose papers, four pages per year to display favorite pictures and gift lists, and lined paper to record favorite memories.
3. Each album goes to age 10, so I am guaranteed to keep all birthday "odds and ends" in the same central location.

As a side note, I also keep notes and journaling for each month of Harbor's life. When I was pregnant, I wrote a letter to Harbor for all nine months, and after he was born, I kept detailed accounts of all things "baby" as he grew. I was lucky to be able to set up a system for documentation with my mom, and since she keeps him for me, I have left the notebook with her during the day, and many notes are in both our handwriting. In fact, by the time he was a year old, my mom had filled a three-ring black binder with monthly accounts, funny stories, and memorable incidents. It is a treasure-house for my heart!

Again, I'd love to share with you my method for note keeping and not getting behind, and I hope to do that once we get established in Detroit.

For fun, here are the loose, handwritten notes I take and also the typed final copies that I plan on turning into a nice album.

I promise not to bore you with 29 months worth of text, but if you are interested in journaling for your child, here are a few examples over the last two years. But, I always start with a handwritten sloppy copy that is messy, quick, and hurried. : )

Keeping notes is not easy, especially by day and week, but I treasure them. As he has gotten older, my style of journaling has changed, and I tend to write in more "story telling" fashion vs. "factual" documentation.

I'm a bit behind in posting my 365 pictures, but rest assured, they are being taken daily.  : ) I have some gorgeous pictures to share from our anniversary! Being apart lends itself to some nice gift giving by mail! Ha!

Take care!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lists- With a New Link!

*Edit- I'm linked to Jones Design Company. Check out the site if you are looking for some creative paint inspiration! I've featured the lime harlequin paint treatment from our last house, but have enjoyed seeing others painted accent rooms!

Spring has most definitely sprung in Arkansas! My piggies are poking out of sandals, Harbor and I have already filled the swimming pool and had a swim day, and with three weeks left until moving day, I'm hard pressed for a spare minute. Times are a bit busy, but happy and care-free.

A Few Lists:

In the next week at School:
1. Benchmark Testing at school
2. Reward Field Trip to a local Sate Park for a Picnic
3. 3rd 9 Weeks Awards Assembly
4. Arvest Bank to discuss ways to save money with our classes
5. Faculty to put on a "rock concert" for entire middle school

Inspirational Links for the Week:
1. This beautiful birthday party by a friend, Meredith, makes me so happy!
2. Unique moving announcements make me want to start planning a few card options!
3. This laundry room makeover reminds me that you don't have to spend a fortune to change the look!
4. This office makeover is just divine, plain and simple!

Projects to Cross off my To-Do List:
1. Finish Harbor's canvases for his new "big" boy room
2. Refurbish bench and add houndstooth fabric to add contrast to Harbor's striped drapes
3. Pack Harbor's 3T fall clothing for the move
4. Go to Lowe's and decide on final paint colors and send paint names to David

Here is to hoping your to-do lists are getting crossed off, too!