Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Gift

I wasn't sure if this post would actually make it from mind- to key board- to publish post.
But after much thought this morning over a cup of Vanilla Hazelnut coffee and Walkers shortbread {a teacher gift from my sweet little French student} I decided why not share my thoughts with you.

This Christmas season came up on us like a sneaky snake. It slithered rather quickly for me, and I'm guessing it was due to our move. We no sooner get settled in.....we find Thanksgiving approaching. After Thanksgiving, I still had no set plans for gifts, family visits, baking cookies, baking breads...... I was caught up in the here and now. My job, classes that have not been completely organized {no blame here, just saying} my daughter the gymnast and her newly broken nose, with that broken nose came doctor visits, parties and other teenage girl get-togethers. Our Christmas tree looks like I shook the living daylights out of it. I didn't.....our cat for whatever reason took a disliking to this particular tree. She attacks it. ? I have no idea why....she never bothered our other {non perfect trees} but this year our tree looks very much like the sick wobbly needle lacking tree Charlie Brown took back to his friends at the school Christmas pageant. I did make it a point to have our holiday movie nights with munchies- turning on the lights- candles filling the room with cinnamon and vanilla aromas- but with all that, deep inside of me there was something brewing. Perhaps with everything that was not going exactly according to my plan, I was being thrown off the Polar Express. MMmmm.... well here goes the tears.
Football Superstar and I made an agreement that we will not purchase gifts for one another this Christmas. With our move, we both agreed that our financial commitments were to go towards the "PriorityList" not our "Santa List". I could certainly promise this to my husband, but could he to me? Yes, he was in full agreement. I jokingly made him sign a "contract" with China Doll as a witness. As we continued on with our days I never once had a twinge of guilt or a moment of weakness where I thought about heading out to the outlets or the mall to purchase my deserving husband a Christmas gift. Until the morning of Christmas!
Funny, Football Superstar and I were up before the kids!
We were brewing coffee, waiting for everyone to wake up to begin our morning of creating new memories in our new home here in Virginia.
I - like a snake- slithered around to make sure there was no gift box with my name on it- breathing a heavy sigh of relief when the lone gift under the tree was for Sam. Somehow he missed the one important doggy treat that Santa placed in his stocking.

Christmas night we are driving home from Pennsylvania. Our girls are sleeping in the back of the car, we have soft music playing on the radio, and our conversation on the day took a rest.
I'm looking out the window as we head into Frederick- I can see homes with lights that were amazing and other homes that were bare. I looked at the mountains that lined the wide farmlands of Maryland. It was then I began to reflect on my past Christmases. The shopping, the gift hiding, the "honey do please" list, the family gatherings that were cemented in concrete,
the headaches after the night was over, and where I've come at this time in my life.
I look over at this man driving us home. I think of how enormous his shoulders are. He carries a large weight on those shoulders. He carries more than I can or could ever imagine.
He places everyone else before himself. His children are his pride and joy, but you will never hear him brag to others. He tells his mother that he loves her each time they end a phone conversation and as he hugs her goodbye. He thanks her. He thanks his children. He thanks his wife and he thanks his God. My husband has taken on a risk while moving his family. He did it for his family. Opportunities not just for us, but for our children. Schools, colleges, future career opportunities for them as well.
What could I ask for next Christmas? I get a gift from my husband every day of the week. Every year. Here is a man I can trust. He loves me unconditionally - flaws and all. He will go without so others can have. He is honest and humbled. He will tell you that he is so far from perfect because no one is perfect. But frankly, I disagree with him.... my children and I see he is the "perfect" of what we need in a husband and father.
This week I had a very horrible experience with a person who was showing nothing but pure selfishness. Pure and raw ignorance of mankind. When I was angry and ready to bite, my husband knew how to support me with compassion and encouragement. No bandaids were placed- only the knowledge of what is important. So you see, I receive gifts from my husband more than I can count. He gives me "gifts" each day. And I'm not the only one in this family who receives these gifts. My family members and close friends receive them as well.
A friend just recently said to me how lucky I am. I already knew this thank you, but after listening toMeg's words again- she is so correct. I am a very lucky woman.
By the time we arrived home, unpacked the car and attended to our hungry pets- I was feeling warm inside. While everyone else went to bed, I took Sam out for one last potty break.
The moon was hidden by clouds, but the scene was beautiful. I took in the colors of the townhouses in our community that were lit up like a Dickens village. As I walked Sam around the path of lights, again Meg's words continued to tell me just how lucky I am.
And I am.

Hoping everyone had a very Merry Christmas and have a wonderful New Year*

Mrs. Lucky

Scrap Book

*My pride and joy {the kids...not the Pillow Pet!}
*Coachman and his wife
*Hanging out at Grandma Ice Creams
*Apple Cheeks with Pop Pop
*Freckle Boy reading to his little Apple Cheeks
*Velcro Sisters
*Christmas Eve service
*Christmas Eve service
*Apple Cheeks liked the Christmas display at Nordstrom
*Apple Cheeks excited to see Santa....{our 7 1/2 hour wait}
*Kris Kringle/Santa Claus/Papa Noel/St. Nick the man of the hour........
*Turned into this........ {note my expression after 7 1/2 hours of waiting our preschooler decided she did not want to sit on his lap (a first) so she recited her wish list from 2 feet away}

Scrap Book

*China Doll with broken nose
*China Doll prepping for bars
*Team work! {and before the broken nose}
*Bridal Shower for Ms. Hillary {2nd from left}

Scrap Book

*Please do not wake me......
*Which one is the real September?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Grey Poupon?

This has been a very interesting week for me at the Academy. boy do I need to get back into the gym as well
For the most part, I am enjoying this new position as preschool teacher. I'm in a fresh new building, decorated with educational visuals and plenty of tools for my little students.
I'm surrounded by the smell of new construction and it's tiny errors too. I did say tiny right?
At this early time of the Academy's enrollment, I only have 3 children in my classroom. Adorable bright faces that greet me.... they are ready to play in the sensory table with sand, pom-poms, colored water or whatever their teacher decides to take a risk in adding to this ever popular table. My risk is never dull for these darling eager-to-learn little people.
There is only one problem. I do not speak French nor do I speak Russian. "T" is French and "V" is Russian. I found a French language travel book that my father-in-law had stashed away, so now I'm able to find some useful words.

On a good note, both students have parents who are very accommodating and helpful in this transition not only for their children, but for the teacher! Now, I'm waiting for the little Italiano or China Doll to enroll that'll be right up my avenue!
This experience for me is very cool. I wanted diversity- and I've been given an opportunity that is not only educational- this experience is giving me an internal growth. I've been surrounded by diversity in my life many times. My own family is diverse. But when you get the opportunity to have such touching experiences- it's a gift. These children who are in my care while their parents travel to DC, Maryland or only down the road to the Tech office....are trusting in me to give them security and loving arms to run to when they feel sad. With this language barrier, you would think these little people who know me only for a short period of time wouldn't be able to feel this sense of security from a woman who speaks no French or Russian. Instead....they feel it. They see my smile and my open arms anxiously waiting their good morning hugs.
For "T" and this teacher..... as we interact in the Drama Center..... I teasingly ask him for Grey Poupon!
He smiles..... hands me a plastic play kitchen bowl and tells me to manger. meaning to eat
And I'm getting paid for this!

As I continue to work towards a new degree, I sometimes wonder if I should be looking to change careers. Well, it's not exactly a complete career change, I'll still work with children.
Art Therapy is not sitting and having Grey Poupon with a little man named "T".
In my heart I know what I'm being driven....guided to do. My purpose.
But until I complete my schooling....and move towards a new career location.....I will absorb all the wonders of childhood. I will embrace these new languages and cultures with pure celebration. As any mother who returns to work- we never take our family members especially our children for granted. Like our families....I will not take these young children and their families for granted. They are not only learning from me....I am learning from them.
I decided to ask each of my (3) families to share with me their holiday celebrations during this winter season. "O" is from England, and celebrates Christmas. And thank heavens "O" is a little girl! I need someone to assist in the tea party, while we have that Grey Poupon!

I'm here. And it's wonderful. even in the moment of chaos
Apple Cheeks is adjusting to her classroom schedule. She is meeting friends in her class from India, Korea and as she puts it....Virginia!
China Doll is surrounded in high school by a rainbow of students. She is feeling blended.

Today is Saturday. Now I can look forward to the weekends like most of the working world.
Today will be full..... but will not be taken for granted.

Life Lesson: Teaching = Learning from those who surround you.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Just Believe

It's the season of believing. It's the season of giving. It's the season of love and laughter.
It's the season of delicious aromas baking in the oven.
Sadly, it's the season of plastic, commercial, over the top gifts, pillow pets, snugglies, high tech, and not to mention get-a-better-bargain when you shop at midnight.

I've always enjoyed Thanksgiving. Never did I plan to run out at the stroke of midnight to fight a snarling vicious crowd of female shoppers just to save a few dollars. Even before I became a believer- I always considered Thanksgiving a holiday to be matter what our belief or worship....our society places the most unusual on their priority list.

Christmastime has always been my favorite season. It has given me such memories and traditions. Years past....I incorporated my families traditions into my own family. My Mothers. My memories of a young child, or teen and even well into my twenties..... Christmastime has always triggered such wonderful memories for me.

Before coming into faith, my home was filled with the joy of trimming a large perfectly shaped Blue Spruce. Baking cookies with homemade hot chocolate. Christmas music playing in the background. Family and friends joining in for the festive moment(s).

And today.... you can still find a Blue Spruce. I prefer imperfections these days. We have the nativity scene, as well as a large ornament of Santa Claus kneeling beside baby Jesus. I'm still baking cookies and making hot chocolate. Still having family and friends joining in. I'm all about the music. I found a DC radio station that plays holiday music 24/7! My teens find themselves drowning in my singing....but I don't care. These are the moments I remember and they will too.

And will hear the story of Jesus. We blend the beauty of the holiday season with the birth of Christ and St. Nicholas. Funny....just like my parents did. I remember a beautiful nativity scene sitting directly under our large Blue Spruce. I remember so clearly because I would take the baby Jesus and place him into my Barbie house.
Apple Cheeks is getting both of what her parents had as children and her older siblings have become to understand.
I remember listening to my father tell the story of La Befana who arrives on the eve of Epiphany. My mother read stories of St. Nicolas of Myra. These were stories that made traditions in our home.

While trimming the tree, placing the nativity in a safe place our cat tends to take baby Jesus now we have the balance our family needs- what our family wants. What my children will carry on hopefully into their own families.
This weekend begins a weekend of movie marathons. Tonight; Polar Express.
One of my favorites. I have so many favorites I really can't place just one on the Top 100 List!
As my husband would tell you...."every movie is her favorite". I can recite lines....I know the lyrics to all songs.....I know character names, possibly their address! just kidding.
The Polar Express not only brings magic, innocence and joy to children viewing- it brings a message. Believe. I'm a 40 something old believer.
As Hero Boy has doubts. The conductor punches Hero Boys ticket; BELIEVE.
Believing is in our hearts. It's to be riding on a train all year long. Not just because it's the season.....not due to the plastic snowmen covering your neighbors yard. Clark Griswald come to mind? Seeing is believing. And sometimes believing, is in what we can not see.
I was once Hero Boy riding the train of doubt. My conductor was Pastor S. He punched my ticket....and as the conductor said to Hero Boy.....sometimes we must believe before we see.
Or as it was for me......awakened.
So for my Hero Boy or Hero Girl or even Billy friends..... may you too believe.

I'm off to prepare for tonights Polar Express magical moment.