What a summer! It’s been awesome in every way! Teaching allows me to be a stay-at-home-mom a third of the year, and I absolutely love it (and, I love going back to school, too!). This is the first summer in a long time that I’ve been able to fully enjoy. I had my glorious summer days in college of teaching English in Thailand, traveling around the southeastern U.S. doing student ministry with an Asbury team at churches and camps, and facilitating mission trips on the Northern Cheyenne reservation in Montana and in a small poverty-stricken town in southwestern Colorado. Post-college, I spent five summers leading a summer day camp at a Boys and Girls Club (very fun but very stressful and taxing!). And then the past two summers, I’ve been job-hunting and transitioning to a new job (first at Millcreek and last summer to PCA). It’s been SO nice not to have the stress of looking for a job! I’ve just been able to ENJOY the summer! So, here’s a little recap.
- We went to Day Out with Thomas in June with my parents. While the day was out, Carter LOVED getting to “meet” and ride on Thomas!
- We spent a quick weekend in Cincinnati. The original plan was to go to the zoo sometime and the children’s museum sometime, so we decided to spend the night and make it into a weekend. We ended up staying with Gerald and Ann, which was SO great, and it turns out, we didn’t go to the zoo or the children’s museum. Every activity was tailored around Carter’s interests, so the theme became “Trains and Bridges.” In the car, he announces every time we go over or under a bridge. “And another bridge. We go under. Here we go. Un-der!” First, we went to Totter’s Otterville, a place to play in different themed rooms; Carter spent most of his time with the train tables, of course. Then we walked across the Purple People Bridge, a pedestrian bridge connecting Cincinnati, OH and Newport, KY across the river. At Gerald and Ann’s, we read train books, and Carter walked over the “bridge”, which was the upstairs hallway overlooking the living room. In the morning, we went to the “Craigslist Thomas store,” where a man’s garage has become a place to sell used Thomas stuff. We bought a Toby, Clarabel, Butch, shark car, and bridge. Then we went to Ikea to spend a gift card I had. Finally, we went to EnterTRAINment Junction. I’m SO glad I found this place, because it’s all about trains! It has the world’s largest indoor train display (90 trains!) and a fantastic train area for kids, including a couple little rides. Carter’s souvenir? A book called Thomas and the Big, Big Bridge. 🙂
- Lucas and I lived it up at EDGE Camp while Calvin was with MiPa and Carter was at Camp Mamawpapaw. Lucas was a counselor for 4th grade boys in the Kilimanjaro village. Since I was going to have to pump every couple hours, I couldn’t be a counselor, but as rec leader (aka fun-bringer), I got to do all the best parts of being a counselor while taking out my least favorite parts (24/7 with the same kids and the “herding cats” feeling). I carried around Floyd the Flamingo, hid objects like a gnome and moose that kids could find for prizes, taught/led tons of songs, facilitated low ropes initiatives, led all-camp games (water stations and a scavenger hunt), led craft time, and learned all the kids’ names. EDGE Camp really is a sweet spot for Lucas and me.
- We joined Lucas’ parents and brother’s family for a vacation at Lake Cumberland. We shared a cabin with Dan and Megan (and Abby and Claire) and spent a lot of time over at the “RV bus” with Mamaw and Papaw. We collected souvenir prizes at bingo night, swam in the indoor pool, played games, took walks, ate yummy meals, visited the Wolf Creek Dam and fish hatchery, and took a boat ride. And, Carter played trains on the floor of the RV (surprise, surprise).
- We spent a long weekend in Henderson, and I took the boys for a week in New Castle so Lucas could get caught up on magazine stuff. In NC, I went to two painting classes, we had a picnic with Rachel and Sam Cory, and we played on lots of playgrounds.
- The boys and I got into a great routine in June of M- toddler storytime at Eagle Creek library, T- baby storytime at Beaumont library, W- playgroup with Megan and Megan, and Th- Joseph-Beth storytimes.
- I finished another grad class, copied more of my CDs to the computer (to transfer to my iPod that is currently missing), organized the laundry room, re-purposed our coat closet to be an activity closet, and potty-trained Carter! Those were some of my major goals. I also started giving guitar lessons to one of my PCA students.
- I dove headfirst into “activities” for Carter (hence, the activity closet). After talking with sister Megan about busy bag ideas on Pinterest, I decided to host a busy bag swap! I enlisted 11 friends to each make 12 busy bags, one for themselves and the rest to share, and then we all met at a park one evening to get 12 unique bags of activities! For mine, I made my first-ever sewing project (beyond Home Ec) with my sewing machine that I had gotten at Christmas. I made ABC I-Spy bags. I did spend a lot of time on Pinterest, but I also spent a lot of time DOING things I saw on Pinterest.
- We played lots of trains. It doesn’t matter if Carter is alone or with others, in his room or on the back deck or in the play room making “snow plows”, the boy loves his trains.
- Calvin has been so sweet — grabbing things, vocalizing, smiling (a lot), and happily joining us for whatever we’re doing. He’ll be 6 months old tomorrow, so I’ll write more later about him.
That’s just a smattering of what we’ve been up to. Again, SO good. Tomorrow is my first teacher day back at work, and I’m excited to get back into that mode. This year, Carter will be going with me 3 days a week AND I’ll get to be his teacher since I’m taking on preschool music. Excited for him to be in “school” (he even had a little supply list) and to spend more time with him in the car (he already talks my ear off).
Lately, I’ve been experiencing a bit of the blahs. I don’t know what my deal is, but I keep thinking that I’ll feel better if…(fill in the blank), but even when I do those things, I still feel unsettled. Here’s my ever-growing list of things that I think will make me feel better.
- if I could get more sleep (but then when I do get more sleep, I sleep in and then am rushed getting ready)
- if I could be early to work (but when I am, I am no more productive than if I arrive right on time)
- if I could be more productive at work (but even when I am productive, I feel like there are so many MORE fun things to do the next day!)
- if I could slow down and take a breather during my lunch time (but my brain doesn’t stop, and I become more flustered)
- if I could spend more time with friends (but when I do, I still feel unaccomplished at the end of the day)
And I realize, like a women’s retreat speaker said years ago, that this could be a sign that I’m “thirsty”. Jesus alone can satisfy this restlessness, this mind-racing, this always-needing-to-do-something-more. And even though it’s hard to find the time to sit down and quiet my mind to BE with Him, it’s what my soul is longing for.
And, with a day off work tomorrow, maybe I’ll be able to do just that!
Valentine’s Days of the Past…
One of my first Valentine memories was from second grade. I don’t have many early memories, but I distinctly remember two things from that year. Our class party involved a game where you had to pop a balloon. Inside the balloon was a slip of paper, and you had to do what it said. Someone’s slip of paper said “Kiss someone” (she didn’t do it), and I remember being shocked that that was even an option. The other memorable part of that party was when a guy in my class named Mark gave me a special present — a plastic heart necklace. He had never expressed any interest in me, so I was surprised to receive the gift from him. Nothing materialized after that — no little childhood romance or anything — but it sure did make me feel special on that day.
Fast forward many moons. I was single for every single Valentine’s Day until I was 26. Was I bitter? Not at all! I’ve always LOVED Valentine’s Day — relationship or not. I would always dress up in a combination of red and pink (sometimes even for the whole WEEK!), and I enjoyed making, signing, giving, and receiving Valentines. In high school, my friend Penny and I decided to celebrate our singleness by eating together at Applebee’s and sharing a yummy blondie brownie. It was a great “tradition” until the next year when she was no longer single. Ah well…
Valentine’s Days of the Present…
Lucas is very thoughtful and romantic, but he prefers to show his love throughout the year and not on some overly-commercialized holiday. This year, things are a little tricky with a 3 month old. Our Valentine’s Day was low-key — our night consisted of our usual routine of dinner and Biggest Loser. Hopefully, we’ll get to have a Valentine’s date soon. Lucas did give me a very creative and thoughtful gift, though. I had been wanting a simple painting of a shepherd to hang in Carter’s bedroom. Well, Lucas went over the top with this painting:
I love it! And yes, there are 99 sheep (one is lost, just like in the Luke 15 story from the Bible).
Valentine’s Days of the Future…
I look forward to creating fun Valentine traditions for our family. I can’t wait to make the day special for Carter (and our other kids who follow) — including heart-shaped food and fun crafts! I hope Carter enjoys artsy projects. I want our kids to see Valentine’s Day as a Day of Love and not a day to make you feel left out if you don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Hooray for holidays!
I’ve dabbled with writing a blog for awhile now. I’ve followed several family-update-type blogs, and I always enjoy finding out the latest of my friends and acquaintances, especially when it comes to adoption, missions, photography, and parenting. And recently, I’ve discovered many incredible blogs about play-based learning, homeschooling, crafting, parenting, and teaching. As an educator, program director, and new parent, I found myself drawn to all these wonderful ideas and philosophies (and Pinterest only added to my generation of ideas!). Still, when it comes to writing my own blog, I had two main concerns:
- Who would read it?
- What would I say?
As far as who would read it, I’m not too concerned anymore. I love to write and reflect (I have about 5 different types of journals that I update regularly). So, ultimately, I’m writing for myself — for my own processing and memory-preserving. I’m also writing for people like my mom who know me and who might be interested in my day-to-day affairs. And, eventually perhaps other mom/teacher/program director/artist people out there might see an idea I’ve tried that they’d like to try as well.
And when it comes to what I’d say, I’m not worried about that, either. One of the first things WordPress told me to was to focus my blog. All of my journals are so focused (prayer journal, poetry notebook, record of daily activities at work, art journal, ongoing letter to my son, gratitude journal, …) that I’d like this outlet to be non-compartmentalized. I might become more focused as time goes on as I realize what I most like to blog about. But for now, my posts could be about any of the following:
- things I’ve tried with my afterschool program kids that worked well (or totally bombed)
- crafty things I’ve done
- entries from my art journal
- poems I’ve written that I’d actually like to share
- insights I’m gaining about marriage and family life
- inspirations from other wonderful blogs out there
- recipes I’ve tried
- my journey of transformation as a beloved daughter of the Most High God
- the growth and development of my son (and other future children!)
- (perhaps!) our potential journey into adoption and/or foster care
- and other random eclectic mishmash 🙂
Come along for the ride as we share the adventure together!