Sunday, December 9, 2012

My Own Mount Everest

Hey Peeps—

This week I have reached the summit of Mt. Everest.   Not literally, mind you.  Actually at this very moment I’m in stretchy pants, underneath about 5 layers of blankets on my pillow topped King size mattress.  My 7 year old is also next to me reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which is a little distracting, as he tends to ask a lot of questions.  But in between his questions, I have time to revel in the fact that in four days I will be graduating from Nursing school, and oh my gosh!  It feels amazing!  

Several months before I started Nursing school I became interested in Mt. Everest.  I have no idea what prompted this curiosity.  Every book I could get my hands on, every documentary I could watch, anything I could learn about the  almost 29,000 ft. Mt. Everest fascinated me.  I was quoting statistics to people, and talking about it at dinnertime to the kids.  Something about climbing the highest mountain in the world grabbed a hold of me, and I was obsessed.  It all makes sense to me now.  I was about to embark on my own quest up a long, hard, cold mountain, and I needed to know that the task was not impossible. 

Mt. Everest had some of the same elements as my own real mountain.  There are oxygenation issues, the importance of staying hydrated, and the ever popular Nursing Diagnosis: Risk for Falls.  All the way up my Everest I saw parallels.  The first day I started my climb, all three of my kids were home sick.  The irony of that still kills me.  I desperately wanted to be home caring for my kids, but was instead leaving them to go learn how to become a nurse.  Billy, who might not look great in a nurse’s cap, stayed with them, and cared for them.  This whole two years, he’s been the rock of this family, keeping things running, at what I like to call “base camp”. 

There’s nothing glamorous about Base camp.  But you can’t have a climb to Everest without a solid base camp.  It’s where all the supplies are kept, the communication relayed, and where you come back to several times as you acclimate to the harsh conditions.  Fortunately for me, base camp was my home, and every day I returned to the safety, warmth, and hugs.  Sure, there was still laundry to do, and bathrooms to clean, but the love that greeted me each day, was what gave me the courage to set out the next day.  And slowly I began to make some progress. 

When you climb Everest, you go up slowly, stopping at certain points, and staying put for an extended period of time.  The time goes by slowly, as you wait, and you might be convinced that you will never reach your goal.  I felt this way, especially my first semester, when I was doing my clinicals at a nursing home.  I knew I had so far to go, and wanted to hurry up and advance, but I had to stop, and learn the basics before going on.  You have to have a foundation, and this was the semester that my nursing foundation of knowledge began. 

Along this journey, I slipped and fell a lot.  I was blinded, not by the sun or wind, but by my fears.  I spent much of the time doubting that I had the courage to keep going.  But Billy and the kids cheered me on, not to mention family and friends who reminded me I could do it.  Texts, phone calls, and hugs in front of the kids’ school empowered me to keep hiking upward, and not worry about the fact that I hadn’t shaved my legs in months.  

And this week, in four days I will attend a Pinning Ceremony.  Billy will meet me on stage, and place a pin on me, which represents the goal that WE, have accomplished.  I want to stop time this week, and just enjoy the view.  I am humbled and blessed. 
But just like on the summit of Everest, time is of the essence.  You can’t linger for long, because the trek down is actually as hard as the trek up.  I’m not sure exactly what lies before me, but I know God’s been with me every step of the way.   And now it’s time to for me to try out my wings and fly!   P.S.  I’m looking for a job.  Anyone? Anyone?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Countdown is on!

Hey Peeps--

I’m such a huge idiot.  All these years, 40 & ½ to be exact, I have been toodling along thinking to myself, “I’m aging as well as can be expected for a fair skinned, thin headed kind of gal”.  This morning I came to a rude awakening, while sitting at the hair dressers, getting a touch up on my roots.  I caught myself looking at my hair lady while she was talking, and noticed my eye lids drooping all the way over my actual eye balls.  How I was even seeing her speak is a mystery to me.  As a youngster, I noticed this  feature in my Grandma Ruby, when she was in her 70’s, so I come by it naturally.  I just thought it might be something that happened later in life, when I don’t care as much about excess skin folds blocking my vision.  Apparently not so. 

The other reason I claim to be an idiot on this gorgeous Saturday in Colorado, is that I thought it might be a good idea to go to Costco.  Really people?  On a Saturday?  Me and all of Westminster were there, and let me tell some of you something you might find a little confrontational.  You aren’t all nice.  You take parking spots and you get pushy in the aisles and you sure like taking your time while getting all the free samples.  And it’s not like I could send Billy, what with him being all “parent of the day” spending three hours at the Nature and Science Museum thing.  But I made it through the experience and that’s what matters, right?

Now I’m home to savor a couple hours of peace and quiet, and enjoy my newly colored roots.  I had to get them done up right as I am graduating in no time.  “From where” you ask?  Don’t mind if I do! From Nursing School!  In 24 days, to be exact.  I KNOW!  Can you even believe it?  I can’t.  For the first time since I started this journey, I really believe I am going to finish it.  There have been so many ups and downs, and times I wasn’t sure I could handle going to another clinical setting where all the nurses were just annoyed with students and the patients seemed like they were about to die.  If I were honest, I’d have to say there were more downs than ups, so ending my final preceptorship on a high note is such a wonderful gift! 

Currently I’m wrapping up my last 105 clinical hours in an actual clinic, rather than a hospital.  I was skeptical at first as previous students told me I’d just be on a phone all day and not get to do much.  But not so!  I’ve gotten to start iv’s, done throat cultures, nasal washes, injections, and a wide assortment of other nursing duties.  I was also nervous about meeting my preceptor…spending that much time one on one can be great, or the opposite of great.  Turns out, it’s been GREAT.  “Rebecca”, I’ll call her, because that’s her name, has been teaching me a lot.  She’s pushed me to try new skills, and always backs me up when I’ve needed some help.  She’s extremely sarcastic, and her dry sense of humor has helped me get through some long days.  I’m so grateful there are people out there willing to teach students, and Rebecca does it on a volunteer basis.  She’s amazing, and an asset to her organization.  I really hope someone recognizes that, besides little ole’ me.

Well, Billy and the kids are about to get home, and the house isn’t going to clean itself.  Even though I’m almost a big fancy nurse, I still have responsibilities around here.  I hate to admit this publically, but it’s been three months since I’ve changed the kids’ bedding.  Does that seem wrong?  On the flip side, I bet they are building up an amazing immune system.   And before I ramble on anymore about the petri dish that is my house, please accept my Happy Wishes for a good Thanksgiving.  As the holidays kick into full speed, I sincerely wish you many blessings and that you and yours are surrounded with laughter, love, and food that wasn’t hard to make.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Busy as a Bowling Alley

Hey Peeps—

Today has been very full, and somewhat productive, thank you.  I’ve had the day off from my preceptorship, so as any good mother would, I volunteered to drive my 7th grade son to go bowling with his PE class first thing this morning.  Wow.  I had no idea my morning would be so full of mouth breathing bowling nerds.  My sweet son Jack brought his buddies to meet me and as soon as they got in my car, I knew I was in trouble.  Jack immediately started tossing leftover Halloween candy to the boys, as I was too cheap to let him buy snacks at the bowling alley.  One boy was allergic to the candy and I think the others were afraid to eat sugar before 9:00 am.  Jack noted the awkwardness, by stating it out loud, as any nerd might do, and so I tried to step in with my “cool mom” schtick.  They did not appreciate my hilarity, nearly as much as I’d hoped.

Once I dropped those guys off, I ran to the store and home before going back to pick up the happy bowlers.  This is a huge feat in itself, and must be noted.  I literally ran two errands in a matter of minutes.  Thank goodness I had on my active wear, as I was very active.  Back at the “lanes” I walked in to gather the boys.  The bowling alley was filled to capacity, which surprised me, because I never knew people really bowled anymore.  Well they do, and if you are a bored woman over 60, who doesn’t mind drinking unflavored coffee out of Styrofoam, I know a great place you might meet some other besties. 

Once we got back in my car, I noted something.  It was more of a lingering presence than anything else.  It was the same smell I noted when walking back in the bowling alley to pick up the boys.  Without meaning to, they had brought the somewhat faint alley odor into my car, and suddenly it was quite strong.  I reminded myself how to mouth breathe, as I’d recently learned the technique during my geriatric clinical rotation in Nursing School.  This helped me concentrate on the road, until Jack noted the time.  We were possibly going to be a minute or two late to their next class.  A palpable hush came over the boys, and I tried to calm them with my mothering skills.  “Don’t worry boys, it’s not like they are going to make you go to detention”.  Jack said, “Mom, yes they will!  We’ll all have lunch detention if we are late”.  I could tell this conversation was going nowhere, so I used the last few minutes to discuss with them what it was like growing up in the 80’s and how awesome it is to have big hair and wear shiny pants.  At this point Jack looked to the backseat and whispered to the boys, “help me”. 

The next big event I participated in today was volunteering in Will’s 2nd grade classroom.  I was looking forward to this, as I’ve heard Mrs. Chang has a calming fountain running in her classroom at all times.  When I walked in the room I greeted Will with a giant smile and an attempt to high five him.  Instead, he nodded his head as he walked past me as quickly as possible.  Mrs. Chang’s assistant had me work on Greek Parthenon cut out’s along with another mother in the teacher’s lounge.  It was delightful catching up with the kids teachers from years gone by as they popped in and out.  At the end of the day I was in his classroom helping wherever I could, often pausing by the fountain.   And also using as much hand sanitizer as possible, without looking like a freak.   

I didn’t work in Faith’s class or even see her at school until the end of the day, but I can’t sign off without mentioning Sunday, when we were asked to share
with our church about why we chose to adopt our daughter Faith.  Normally I’d rather go get a mammogram than get up in front of people and talk, but this was special, and we were thrilled to be able to share our story.  Naturally I choked and my voice sounded like I’d been sucking a helium balloon, but Billy brought it home, and I think in the end people were touched by the way God worked in our lives through adoption.  It’s pretty much the best story I could be a part of, and when God authors something so special, you have to share it, even if public speaking makes you want to throw up. 

Lately I’m keenly aware of God’s blessings in our lives.  He’s been so good to us—we have three kids who remind us how to live.  He’s helped me get this far in nursing school, and He’s given Billy the strength to deal with a crazed wife who never quite knows how to relax.  But somehow we make it through each day, usually laughing and only sometimes crying.  And when it’s time to say goodnight, there’s hugs, kisses, and lots of prayers from thankful hearts.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Lesson in the Leaves

Hey Peeps—

My seven year old son Will just asked me to give him a “butt massage”.  I wish I were lying.  Naturally I denied his request.  We all just came in from jumping in the biggest leaf pile ever made.  Will and Jack insisted on jumping from the railroad ties, to the ginormous pile, in order to get some major air.  I warned them over and over that they would get hurt.  While only one of them cried, they both realized I was, after all, right once more.  We managed to find some other good places to jump from, and jumped till there were leaves all the way down in our underwear.  This is the kind of fun we all need, don’t you agree?

The stuff of life sure seems to be keeping us busy around here.  I’m done with my final test of nursing school, and all that’s left is a leadership class, and my  preceptorship, which is essentially an internship.  As I get closer and closer to my graduation date in December, I become more and more aware of my lack of direction.  You might think this causes me stress, and you might be right.  I mean, what kind of idiot goes to school for two years, and graduates not knowing where she wants to work?  That would be me. 

My logic, or faith, whatever you want to call it, is telling me that if I can make it through two years of nursing school while raising three kids, then the right job is also going to come along in due time.  Am I naïve?  Perhaps.  Today I don’t really care.  Today we jumped in the leaves.  Today we played.  And today I went to parent teacher conferences for Faith and Will. 

The conferences went well, like they always do, and I sat there amazed at both reports of my kids.  Seriously, if you knew Billy and I, you would not expect our kids to be as smart as they are.  It’s almost eerie.  Since Faith is adopted, we feel that her smarts have an explanation.  But Will seems like almost a fluke.  Will’s teacher said he had lots of friends, and the only time he gets into trouble is “when he’s being too social”.  She asked what Will is like at home, and I replied, “Oh he’s very curious.  He likes to take things apart”.  This would be evidenced by the screwdriver I found next to the milk in the refrigerator tonight while making dinner.   

Faith’s conference went like all the others.  The bottom line is she’s amazing.  The good news is she isn’t perfect, and she knows it.  I am always just blown away by the fact that I have a daughter who is not only sweet, but smart, fun, and has a zest for life.  What a huge gift we have been given. 

Tonight while we were eating dinner, three teenagers walked by our house, and one of them jumped into our leaf pile.  Jack yelled, “Mom!  Some kid is in our front yard jumping in the leaves!”.  Normally this would irritate me—Jack’s urgent need to tattle, and some kid thinking it was okay to come into my yard.  But honestly, after the tragedy involving Jessica Ridgeway, I’m seeing life a little differently. I quickly opened the front door, while the three kids were trying to grab their stuff and scurry off before being busted.  I yelled, “Wait, it’s okay!  That pile of leaves is begging to be jumped in!  Go ahead and jump all you want!”  For the next few minutes my kids and I watched them from the front window as they took turns.  And we laughed at their happiness.   I hope they come back.

Life doesn’t always make sense.  In fact I think most of the time it’s just plain hard.  Today I chose to look past the hard stuff, and live abundantly.  I played with my kids.  We jumped in the leaves.  We shared the joy with someone else.  And when it’s time for bed, there will be hugs and kisses.  Today was a good day.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Fun Night with a Purpose!

Hey Peeps—

This is the first afternoon I’ve had in a month to just cuddle up in bed with some Kettle Corn and relax.  I came home from school with good intentions to study, and before I knew it, I was napping.  Don’t be jealous though.  It wasn’t a great nap... Last time I was in college, about 20 years ago, I would often come back to my dorm room to nap.  Nowadays a  “post class mid-day nap” is rife with guilt, jerky wakefulness, and images of the principal calling me to ask why I’m not at the kids’ school volunteering as I sleep the day away. 

Billy had one of those weird pre-children moments this past weekend too.  We were invited to attend a benefit for a friend of ours who has a family member battling breast cancer.  Our friend is part of a band named The Jagtones, and many of the band members are associated with our kids’ school.  We love The Jagtones, as they do covers of all the classics, and have a darn good time making fun music.  We were excited to go out as a family for a night on the town and show our support for a very worthy cause.

The Jagtones had their event at The Buffalo Rose in downtown Golden.  We arrived early and enjoyed taking the kids up and down main street for a little window shopping.   If you haven’t been to Golden in awhile, you should go!  It’s got a great vibe, fun shops, and a small town feel that makes you want to live there, not snotty at all, like Boulder. Soon it was time to head in the restaurant/bar and get jiggy with it. 

Normally we don’t take our three children to bars, so please don’t report us to Child Protective Services.  We had to walk through a main bar, to get to a room with a small bar, and dance floor where The Jagtones would be playing.  The bartender came through to each table to ask what we wanted to drink.  This took me by surprise, as I had yet to see a menu and wasn’t sure what my options were.  I asked the nice man, “What do you have?”  and his reply, dripping with sarcasm was, “Well, you’re in a bar, sooooo”.  Billy stepped in immediately, as he knew this was unfamiliar territory for me, and told the man, “Give her a margarita.  But go real heavy on the fruit, and real light on the alcohol”.  There may have been some winking between them, but it was dark, so I’m not really sure.

At this point in the night, Jack and his friend went to an upper level to hang out with their school buddies (aka: girls) while Faith and Will stayed with us.  Faith only hung out with us for about five minutes, and then once the music began, she was out on that dance floor with her friend Abby.  The two of them danced literally for hours, and entertained the whole room with their graceful moves and carefree spirits.  Will stayed by Billy and I, as we hung out with good friends and enjoyed the fun atmosphere. 

As we watched our daughter dance and listened to the band, Billy explained to me that it was really weird to be there with his kids.  When we met, back in 1994, he was always playing music in all kinds of bars downtown Seattle, living his dream.  (while also living in his mother’s basement).  When he followed me out to Colorado, he left that life behind, and hasn’t looked back.  But there we were in another bar, with our kids in tow, and he wasn’t up there on stage, but rather down in the crowd with a 7 year old on his lap.  He doesn’t have regrets, mind you, but he needed to reflect on the choice he made to be a husband and dad.   We didn’t sit and ponder the past for long, since the dance floor was five feet away, and when a woman needs to dance, the man must accompany her.  A bunch of us cut loose, footloose, and mostly looked like idiots having a blast.  Which is what we were.  Jack and Will joined us briefly, and Faith stopped for a second to be a part of the family too, until the music called her into her own world once again. 

What a night.  One of the best parts, besides me and my friend Grace “makin’ money, gettin’ paid”, was when several cancer survivors stood up and shared their stories.  These people beat the odds, and are living their lives when doctors said they wouldn’t.  They gave God the glory and thanks, and the whole room stopped to pray for the mother of two that we had all come out to support.  What a great way to spend a night, a privilege to be part of someone’s story, and a gift to be a family.  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cookies, camping, cruising along...

Hey Peeps,
The good news is I can admit I have a problem.  The bad news is I can NEVER EVER EVER make oatmeal butterscotch cookies again.  Last weekend while Billy was away camping with our oldest son, I literally ate 16 palm sized cookies in three days.  I mean, they did have oatmeal in them, so I feel that cancels out some of the bad stuff, but really, I think I must own that 16 seems a little over the top.  Before you go all judgy on me, just remember this:  it’s not my fault I’ve been given the gift of cookie baking Queen.  It remains my only skill worth bragging about in the kitchen.

Did I mention my husband Billy took our son Jack to Leadville to camp last weekend?  I swear, my car has never smelled so bad as it did the day they came home.  They weren’t even in it all that much, but somehow they managed to stink it up real good.  They did have fun, however, so I probably shouldn’t complain too much about the car stench.  Billy said, “The first night was cold.  The second night was bitter cold”.   Apparently that’s common for 10,000 ft.  I wouldn’t know.  I was sleeping comfortably on our pillow top mattress with a nice breeze from my ceiling fan. 

Our son Jack is kind of a city kid, and openly admits to hate camping, which is all the more reason we wanted him to go.  Billy is kind of an outdoorsy guy, when he’s not at home playing the X box and drinking flavored tea.  Two years ago, on Father’s Day, I gave Billy a nice Bear Grylls knife.  It’s real manly and sharp, and he loves to take it camping.  This past weekend the knife came in handy for cutting up kindling, and was the reason Billy’s first stop after coming home to kiss me, was to go to Urgent Care.  Lucky for him, he hasn’t developed any flesh eating bacteria, but he is having a hard time bending his finger. It’s frustrating to watch him try to use the blinker in the car, as each time he turns it on, he also hits the windshield wipers. Just this morning we all got real confused at Faith’s soccer game.  Was he pointing or giving Faith a thumbs up?  I guess I’ll never know. 

Faith, Will, and I had a very nice weekend at home while the boys were away.  Mostly I just studied for a test, but we did have a fun visit from Faith’s 3rd grade teacher.  Mrs. Allison wanted to learn how to make cards, so we spent some time giving her some tips and talking a million miles a minute.  Mrs. Allison is the type of person you want to be around.  She’s what I call “a cup filler” rather than “a cup drainer”.   After a morning with her, you feel happy, and encouraged. We were particularly thankful as she brought us food too.  My kids were so glad to have a real meal that night, instead of just Raisin Bran and string cheese. 

One of the nights Billy was away, I let the kids come into my room and read if they “promised to be very quiet and not talk to me”. It was agreed, and each child brought in a book and hopped into my bed.  Faith had her chapter book, and Will chose Garfield.  I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at him as he read to himself.  He’s got allergies and sounds a little like he’s been a 2 pack a day kind of guy, and let me tell you, hearing him laugh that husky laugh, deep from his belly, just warmed my heart.  A special moment I had with Faith was when she asked me about what day I would be graduating from Nursing School.  I told her the date of my pinning, and she exclaimed, “Mom, oh my gosh!  That’s amazing!  That’s Taylor Swift’s birthday!”  It’s nice being compared to a 20 year old singing sensation.  Faith knows I got it going on, after all. 

Another Monday will be here in less than 12 hours. After some adjusting, we all seem to be getting into a groove this Fall, despite the hectic schedule.  Tomorrow the five of us will head off into a variety of directions, to a full day of expectations.   But the best part is when we all are back together under one roof, relaying the events of the day over a meal.  There’s nothing fancy about our lives, in fact some might think we are boring and simple.  We’re okay with that.   All I need at this point in my life is laughter, my family, and I wouldn’t mind a good night’s sleep.  

Friday, August 31, 2012

Fall is here, whether I like it or not

Hey Peeps—

Well here we are at the end of August, getting back into a routine.  Personally I liked the routine I had during summer.  It went like this:  1. Wake up whenever I want, 2.Sit out on the back deck with coffee 3. Boss Billy around the rest of the day.   Now that school has started the mornings look a little different.  We all get up, run around like crazy people, screaming for clean underwear, and black soccer socks.  Another time consuming job in the morning involves checking Will’s hair.  He’s grown his hair out this summer and requires mousse to style it so he doesn’t look like Steven Tyler.  Every morning we talk through “how to use product” as he’s only 7 and thinks mousse feels like whip cream and should be played with for five minutes before going onto the actual hair shaft.  All the while, Billy calmly makes the kids’ lunches, and tries to reassure us that life is going to be okay. 

I can hardly believe I’m back to Nursing School this week, for my fourth and final semester.  A few of my peeps and I were sort of depressed about having to go back, so I decided I’d try out my new dance move in order to perk them up during one of our breaks today.  After I performed the move (called, “Makin’ money, Gettin’ Paid”) for a couple friends.  There were shrieks of horror and they begged me to stop.  A few of them wouldn’t make eye contact with me.  Sometimes you just have to accept that even though you think you have a gift, you really probably don’t. 

I’d love to update you with positive news about my son Jack’s Jr. high experience thus far.  At first he hated it.  Two weeks in and he’s at the point of not despising it.  Jack and I don’t “embrace change” real easily.   And to add to Jack’s challenges, we’ve forced strongly encouraged him to try out for the soccer team this year which didn’t go well the first night.  He got in the car and I swear his words were, “Well I hated every second of that, and I’m never trying that again”.  I talked him off the ledge, and by the end of the night he had a great attitude and accepted that he may not be the fastest kid out there, but he’s not giving up.  I’m beside myself with joy that after three nights of practice, things are progressively getting better.  After school the other day, he walked right up to my friend Lisa and said, “The good news about soccer is that I haven’t died while running.  The bad news is my thighs are on fire”.

Faith LOVED her first day of school.  She got to show a new girl around all day and be her buddy.  She came home excited about everything from game time to Spanish class.  She is a breath of fresh air.  I so wish I had her zest for life.  And her hair.  She has amazing hair. Will, my youngest and most sensitive child had a rough first day.  His exact words were, “It was horrid.  All the girls tried to kiss me at recess and I only learned three words in Spanish”. My friend Beth told me that he might enjoy that kind of day in about 7 years.  I think I’ll keep this nugget of truth tucked way down deep.    

To celebrate one week of school under all our belts, we met up with some other friends from the kids’ school to watch the Rocky Mountain Air show.  We went cheap (and smart) and found a spot in a grassy field where all the kids could run around and act crazy.  Will and his buddy Christian were given permission to pretend to act like little T-rex dinosaurs.  This was quite exciting as they’ve been forbidden to be dinosaurs on school grounds.  There’s just something about them that makes them look like they’ve been riding the short bus.   As the air show loudly resonated above our heads, we adults enjoyed each other’s company, laughed a lot, and decided we just might make it through another Fall after all.  It was the kind of night that reminds us how fortunate we are.  We have all kinds of freedom in this country, we have beauty all around us, we have good friends, we have kids that bring us joy.  We are certainly more blessed than we deserve. 

Saturday morning brings us new challenges of course. Will coughed all night and Jack had a bloody nose that lasted 30 minutes around 4 am.  There are massive amounts of 7th grade homework to do, broken toilet seats abound, and it’s way past time to re-caulk the kids’ bathroom.  Billy is attacking his list one item at a time, as I inspect his work and drink my coffee with heavy cream.  A fight is breaking out in the hallway between the children over who gets to be the first one to sit on the new toilet seat, and I have a million pages to read for my first test.  Thank the Lord above for the grace He gives us to face this day, and the next few months as life goes speeding by like an F-16.  Or 17.  Whatever that jet was.   

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The closing ceremony of Summer

Hey Peeps—

What is it about the Olympics that make me feel like I need to carb load?  Thankfully Costco sells a five pound bag or so, of a caramel/cheddar popcorn mix that I was able blast through in about three days while sitting around watching others burn up their precious calories running and leaping through the air.  I did find some rogue popcorn today when I was making my bed…but even more disturbing was finding a few kernal remnants in my bra.  I have no idea what happened there.

Our summer sure is wrapping up quickly.  You’ll be happy to know Jack and Faith are safely home from camp. They had a wonderful time, and have told us many neat stories of their time away from home.  They were so excited to teach us all the new songs they learned too.  At first we were so pleased as they did the actions and sang about God, until they came to a troubling song about swimming with baby sharks.  There are actions to that one too, but I feel I should warn you:  at the end of the song, the person in the water “parties with Jesus”. 

The summer games are about over, and sadly, so is our summer.  We’ve had a really good three months together, and watching my kids grow up right before my eyes is such a gift.  I am so thankful for each day, even when the days were full of phrases like, “I’m bored” and “Mom, Jack just showed me his nipples while I’m trying to eat lunch”.  My kids make me laugh and fill my heart with joy.  They are growing up so fast, and I can’t help but feel time ticking away.  I absolutely hate that feeling. 

It seems fitting that we are finishing up the summer watching the Olympic Games.  Have you been watching too?  We decided Will resembled many of the Japanese male gymnasts, minus the armpit hair and penchant for tights.  Faith has begun teaching herself to swim like Missy at the pool—making me time her as she goes back and forth.  Jack beat her at one event, so she worked on it for three hours until she beat his time.  If there was an event called  “Most competitive child” she would totally get the gold.   Don’t you just love the back story on each of the athletes?  What amazing stories they have to tell!  The Games have been a great tool for us to use with the kids, about pressing on, and giving it all you got.  I love teachable moments.   The children seem less enthusiastic.   

In a week or so, Jack, Faith, Will, and I all begin school within a couple days of each other.  Jack starts 7th grade, Faith will be in 4th, and Will is heading into 2nd.  I will begin my final semester of Nursing school, and Lord willing, I will graduate in December as an R.N. This journey began when Jack was in 3rd grade, so you can imagine my elation if I really do make it to the end.  Sometimes I wonder if I’ll finish, especially on days like last Wednesday when I fell down the stairs from top to bottom.  I hit my head and my back so hard and then landed on the floor in a heap.  I laid there assessing myself for injuries, while screaming for Billy to come help me, and one of my first thoughts was, “crap, I guess I won’t be going to Nursing school this fall”.  I was pretty sure I broke my back, or at the very least had a subdural hematoma.  About five minutes later I was up folding laundry, so I guess it’s gonna take more than a little fall down the stairs to keep me from becoming a nurse. 

Before the crazy, chaotic schedule of Autumn kicks in, there’s a few more lazy days to enjoy.  We’ll probably take an early morning bike ride, and spend one more afternoon at the pool.  The boys just got two toads, and have plans to watch them for hours, while Faith and I hope to get caught up on scrapbooking.  There will be hurdles to jump and obstacles to come, but I think I’ll let tomorrow worry about itself.  Today is now.  Today is calm.  Today we are still together

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Jack and Faith go to Camp!

Hey Peeps—

Have you ever found that the long winter months in Colorado can make you crazy?  And right around the month of March, you go and make an impulsive plan for the summer just to help you cope, and then when summer comes, you realize you’ve made a huge error in judgment?  Anyone?  Or is it just me?

My house is eerily quiet.  You don’t hear me say that often, but for this week, it’s true.  Two of my three kids are off at camp. Yes, back in March when school projects and trips to Hobby Lobby were overtaking our lives, I decided we needed something totally fun to look forward to.  I’d heard about Idrahaje—a camp in the mountains near Bailey, and decided this was the summer my kids experienced the great outdoors.  Without me.  Without their daddy.  And now I can’t believe how stupid that was. 

The decision to take Jack and Faith to camp was simple.  I asked if they wanted to go, they said, “sure mom, whatever” and the decision was final.  Will also asked to go, but being that he is seven, we said, “no way, not on your life”.  At first he was mad to be stuck with me, but he soon began compiling a list called, “Will’s Week-O-Fun”.  It has been displayed on the fridge for months, in order to make Jack and Faith jealous, and to remind me that we are going on a lot of outings, so I better plan accordingly. 

The day to take them to camp finally arrived.  We’d packed them up with everything the list required, and headed out the door.  Both Jack and Faith were nervous, but seemed determined.  Billy and I tried to talk it up like they were about to have the best week of their lives, and Will just kept asking, “how longs it gonna take to drop them off?” 

As soon as they arrived we got them registered and found their respective cabins.  We took Jack first, and his counselor came out to greet us and meet him.  We found his bed and put all his stuff in the cabin and quickly realized this was “goodbye”.  I tried to give him roller coaster knucks (we learned it from Modern Family) and hug him goodbye.  However, he was embarrassed and told his counselor, “sorry for their behavior” while trying to shuffle us out the door.  Billy managed to get a quick side hug out of Jack, while I just got an eye roll.   

Faith was next.  My sweet 9 year old little baby girl…we drove over to her cabin and carried her stuff in for her.  Her counselor was bubbly and sweet and instantly I knew Faith would like her.  We settled her in as well, and prepared for our goodbyes.  At least she still hugs her mama.  I could tell she was trying to be brave, so we didn’t draw it out, even though I really wanted to.  I noticed Billy was mumbling under his breath, “okay, it’s okay.  This is normal.  This is what parents do every year, and this is normal”.  I think it’s called something like“Positive self talk”. 

As soon as we got in the car we drove back to Jack’s cabin to see if he was playing outside with the other kids yet.  At first we didn’t see his red plaid shorts, so naturally we thought he’d been kidnapped.  Then there he was in the crowd—he looked serious, but at least involved.  And we knew he was going to be okay.  We “forgot” to put something in Faith’s stuff too so we drove once again to her cabin and took a peek to make sure she was not sobbing for her mother.  No, in fact she was out in the playground playing tetherball with a friend, and in my heart, I knew she was okay.  I’m pretty sure she’d already lost her sweatshirt too. 

We made the dreaded right turn out of the camp and began heading back home.  All three of us had different responses, and without naming names, here’s how it went down:  One of us began bawling like a baby, one of us kept saying, “stop! If you cry I’m gonna cry” and one of us was in the backseat cheering, “Time for the PARTY WEEK!!!” By the time we hit Conifer, we’d all settled down and tried to focus on what kind of comfort food we were going to have for dinner.

Will’s gone to bed with us every night so far.  His excuse is that he can’t sleep without his brother in his room.  Oddly enough that’s our excuse too.  By midnight, Billy gathers up his 60+ lb frame and carries him off, so we can all sleep better.  Last night we began the list of fun with a bar-b-que.  We had good food, good friends, and a lot of laughter.  Today we biked to Billy’s work, and came home by way of the fountains where we cooled off and had a snack. So far having Will all to myself has been good, with the exception of the conversation he begun with, “Mom, how do babies get out of the girl’s body?”  That was a painful, and somewhat weird five minutes.  Luckily I thought to distract him with candy. 

 By the time you read this, my home will be full again, brimming with noise.  I’ll be hollering at three sweeties once again, to put their shoes away, make their beds, and brush their teeth.  This week is different, and it feels weird.  But it’s good and right, and my kids are learning a little bit more about who they are going to be in this big scary world.  And we are learning how hard it is to let go.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

A visit to Pagosa Springs!

Hey Peeps—

My two boys are in the front yard playing with a toy they got from Sonic.  It’s a small missle-shaped blow up toy that they are launching at each other’s heads.  Faith is dancing away on the sidewalk playing with a bouncy ball, without a care in the world.  There is a gentle breeze, and the children are laughing.  This is what summer is all about.  Until the blow up missle puts an eye out. 

Summer continues to move at a rapid pace.  We just returned home from four days with family in Pagosa Springs.  My mom lives there—she and Gilbert have a bit of land and a home  so we can spread out and enjoy.  My aunt and uncle from Maryland were also there, and boy was it a good time!  However, I almost contracted rabies during our trip, as there was a bat flying around the 2nd and 3rd floor of my mother’s house as if it owned the place.  One morning it came quite close to my head, and I did what any normal woman would do.  I dropped to the floor and screamed, “Bat!!!  Bat!  It’s trying to kill me!”   I badgered Billy for two days about how aloof he was about the flying rodent and begged him to remove it from the house.  I guess I wore him down, because on our third night while I was outside, Billy brought me a bag holding a dead bat.  If I’d had a crown I would’ve put it on his head and called him a king right then and there.  I didn’t have a crown, so I just high fived him and said, “Thanks babe.  You rock”. 

Besides all the excitement with the bat, we did a few touristy things around the town of Pagosa.  The boys spent one whole morning fishing with Grampa Gilly at Echo Lake, while we ladies went and shopped along Main street.  I grew up in Pagosa, and as a child I rode my horse down that street many times.  My horse, Lady often made a “deposit” right in front of Goodman’s department store, and the owners still like to mention this to my mother every time she stops in to do her shopping.  What can I say?  I tend to leave a mark wherever I go.

Another fun outing was going to the Liberty Theater to see the new Spiderman movie.  It always brings back memories sitting in that old theater.  It’s where I saw movies like E.T. and Raiders of the Lost Ark as a kid.  The sound is bad, and the floor is sticky, but you just can’t beat a small town theater that’s been around for almost 80 years.  And in case you hadn’t read any other credible reviews, Billy voted this Spiderman “the best one yet”. 

The next night we did something really exciting!  Our friend J.R. brought us free tickets to attend the Red Ryder Rodeo.  It was amazing!  The kids were mesmerized by each event from the bucking broncos to the bull riders.  They loved everything but the calf roping—Will kept turning to me and said, “That’s so mean!” Next time we go, we’ll make sure to take him to the snack bar during that event.  You live and learn.   As the final bull rider was bucked off, Will announced he was going to throw up.  We missed the last event in order to get him home, and I’m pleased to report it was a false alarm.  All in all, I’d call the night a great success.

One of my favorite parts of going to my mom’s is just hanging out at her house.  This time they had a neighbor’s horse on their property that we were able to let the kids ride.  The kids sat on Ace bareback, while I led him with a halter and rope.  Ace was great, unless there were loud noises, and I’m proud to say Will learned how to fall off a horse the right way.   We also spent some time playing a little basketball—my mother who is 69, and my aunt who is 78 also played.  At one point I just sat back in awe of these two women playing basketball with three kids—who does that at their ages?  It was great. Then my mom started cheating a little.  She kept pulling Jack’s shirt over his head and then moved to distracting him with a hug.  He did what I expected him to do, and that was to just hug her back.   

We are happy to be back home, but will miss the time we had with family and hold onto those great memories, along with the others we’ve made this summer.  The fires are out, the rains have come, my kids are happy, and there’s no bats in my house.   Life is good. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Girl's Weekend to Remember!

Hey Peeps--

The problem with going away for the weekend is not missing my family, although there’s a small amount of that.  The problem lies in the fact that my two boys, led by their father, feel the need to torture me by sending photos to my phone of them on my couch in nothing but their underwear.  I wish I were exaggerating or simply trying to humor you.  But no, the vision I paint is all too real, and my eyes still burn from images I cannot erase.  Thankfully the “girl’s getaway” was refreshing and fun, and even though I tried to be mad at the boys, all I could do was laugh. 

My sweet daughter Faith and I were among the 4700+ women this weekend that attended a Beth Moore Conference in Colorado Springs.  In case you don’t know, Beth Moore is an author of many books and several Bible studies. I stumbled upon Beth Moore’s Bible studies when I first became a mom. I had tried going to mommy groups, where the kids played and made crafts while I was supposed to have a couple hours to bond with other women in the same phase of life as me.  I learned rather quickly that other women annoy me, and decided I should focus my energy on learning about God, rather than coming home from mommy group in a tizzy because I couldn’t afford a weekly mani-pedi like all the other mothers.  

I’ve never personally met Beth Moore, but I love how she writes and I love that she doesn’t just spoon feed me with clichés about how God wants me to send all my problems up to Him in a giant hot air balloon of love.  No, she makes you work for your spiritual growth, and believe it or not, after 10 weeks of a particular study, potentially you can walk away looking a little less like the old you, and a little more like the person God intended you to be.  But wait, that’s not all!  Not only is Beth Moore a great author, she’s a speaker too!

This past weekend Beth came to Colorado Springs to speak a little truth into our lives. Faith and I, along with some special friends, were so excited to be among all those women in the World Arena! Normally when I attend a Beth Moore conference I like to get in line way early to ensure seats in the front few rows. (yes, I’ve attended several of her events, but I promise I’m not a stalker).  This time was different. Being there with Faith was way more important than being right up in Beth’s business.  One of my favorite moments of the event was when Travis Cottrell, the worship guy, was leading us all in song.  The Arena was filled with all sorts of women praising the Lord, and there was Faith, standing on my chair behind me, with her arms draped around my neck while both of us were singing as loud as we could!

Beth’s message to us was all about finishing well.  That might sound a little odd to you, as we sort of live in a world that puts a huge emphasis on starting something new.  Don’t you agree?  I mean who doesn’t love to start a project?  Isn’t it fun to plan something huge, make a list, and then go shopping for all the necessary items?  I’m right there with you.  But Beth reminded us, through God’s Word, to remain disciplined, fight the good fight, and finish well.  In fact our motto of the weekend was “Follow Me=Follow Through”.  The “Me” in the motto happens to be God, in case you were confused.

I needed that message more than you know.  As I’ve mentioned a gazillion times, I started taking classes towards a degree in Nursing school back when I was 36 years old.  Slowly I knocked out one class at a time until I finally entered the actual program a year and ½ ago.  This August I will begin my final semester, and graduate in December as an R.N. 

Can I be really honest with you?  I’ve wanted to quit every single day.  I’m not even lying.  I’ve woken up every day, with one of the first thoughts on my heart being, “Why am I doing this?  What’s the point?  I won’t even be done until I’m 40, and who wants to hire a 40 year old, with no medical experience to be their nurse…” I’ve been successful if you look at grades, but somehow I still manage to doubt that I am worthy to be a nurse.  Even with one semester left, I recently told Billy, “Yeah, I think I’m just done. I probably better just quit”.  He did what he always does, which happens to be VERY irritating, and said, “You do what you need to do, but I support you”.  Grrrrr.  I know in my heart I will finish.  But now I don’t just want to finish.  I want to be confident.  I want to walk into my clinicals with a spirit of joy and energy to learn and help people.  I want to smile more.  I want to be a friend to the other students who lack confidence like me.  I want to finish well.  I’m thankful for a weekend of renewal, and remembrance that it is God who gives me the strength to not only finish, but to finish well! 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Leadville: More than just a mine

Hey peeps—

I just looked at my phone and saw that it was 102 degrees.  We were sitting outside eating dinner and I felt like I might die.  I was hoping it was the heat, rather than my chicken burrito, and was pleased to see it was indeed the heat.  Can you believe that just two days ago, in our great state of Colorado, I was wearing layers (including long johns), and sleeping with four blankets?  If there’s a medical condition called “heat shock” I totally have it. 

If you have a second, I’d love to share with you about a recent trip our family took up to Leadville, Colorado.   About a week ago, Billy and I packed up the kids, along with 22 other folks from our church, and headed into unknown territory.  We knew what highway to follow of course, and how to get there, but we had no idea what to expect once we arrived.  To be honest, we weren’t even sure how we’d spend the bulk of our time. 

Most people think of Leadville as the little town high up in the mountains with an elevation almost twice as high as Denver.  If you are there for the summer, it’s probably because you want to deprive your body of oxygen in order to train for a race.  Our purpose had nothing to do with oxygen deprivation, or training for a race, but we were there to learn, to teach, and to work wherever we felt led to go. 

Before arriving I was especially concerned with our lodging situation, as I heard we’d be in a “hostel” which sounded like we were going somewhere angry rather than somewhere with fresh duvets and free wifi.  My fears were alleviated once we arrived and found a fairly clean establishment.  I was thrilled I wouldn’t have to share the communal bathrooms with the men, and even though I could hear Pastor Chris snoring through the walls all night long, it turned out to be the perfect place for us to stay. 

The first full day we were there, our group attended a local Hispanic church.  What a great church service!  I’m not fluent in Spanish, but trust me, I knew that they were praising the same God I praise every week at my church, and they did it with more joy and passion than I ever display on a Sunday morning.  After they fed us all, we headed to a mobile home park on the outside of town to pray and invite children to join us for the upcoming week, as we would run a Vacation Bible school right there in the park each morning.  This mobile home park turned out to be the community God wanted us in all week.  We saw extreme poverty and hardship—everyone we met had a story to tell, and we were so thankful to be a small part of their lives, even if just for a week. 

The week turned out to be much more than just a Vacation Bible school—although that was definitely a highlight.  In addition to VBS, we were able to do several work projects in the trailer park.  One woman from our team, sweet Sue, spent the week making prayer quilts to pass out to different women that we met.   Every time a quilt was given away, there were tears flowing from hearts of gratitude.  The men in our group experienced an Extreme Makeover opportunity and totally repainted a woman’s home—otherwise it was going to be demolished.  I still don’t know for sure how God led our group to her, but somehow He knew she was in need, and this allowed us to fully experience being His hands and His feet.  This was also the point in the week where Billy acquired black tar all over his ginormous calves from helping fix her roof. 

Several of us also had the good fortune to re-paint a play structure.  I was helping on this one, along with about 15 kids from the neighborhood, and some of our own children too.  We only had about 9 paintbrushes, so every few minutes someone would yell “switch!” and all the kids would take turns.  Teaching children to paint is not a gift God gave me, so I climbed high up in the structure and let our pastor’s wife, Cami, teach the children.   In the end, the kids who live in the park can look at that playground and know they were a part of making it nice.  And I can look back on the day satisfied, knowing I didn’t yell at anyone for using the paintbrush improperly.

Coming home from a trip like this feels so weird.  On the one hand it’s nice to be home and in our own bed.  But on the other hand, we experienced something special in Leadville and it’s sad to see it end.  We made so many connections with folks.  We bonded as a group, even if that meant we saw Laurie walking around without a bra every night.  We laughed our heads off one minute and cried the next. We watched our kids work all day long, with joy in their eyes because they knew they were part of something special.  We saw God open doors and soften hearts. Today we face the stuff of life, and over time the memories will fade.  I will hold this week closely to my heart, knowing each one of us came home changed by the ways we saw God work. God is good.  All the time. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Staycation worth Mentioning!

Hey Peeps—

There’s perhaps nothing more disturbing to a mother than when she’s doing four days worth of laundry and fails to see any of her 12 year old son’s underwear amongst the finished clean clothes.  In case you were wondering, this exact thing happened to me today.  Normally I do a load a day, as any Type A, slightly obsessive- compulsive mother would do.  But this week I diverted from my established routine so that my family could take a nice little staycation to Glenwood Springs to celebrate the end of a school year, as well as my 40th birthday. 

Can I just say that I love a road trip?  I’d like to think it’s the beautiful scenery and quality time with my family.  However, I’m pretty sure it’s the snacks that excite me the most.   Somehow I managed to finish off a nice sized box of Crunch N Munch all by myself by the time we passed Vail.  I ate as quietly as I could so I wouldn’t have to share any with the children—which was no small task.  I try to start my road trips with as much fiber as possible, because I know once I finish the box of carmelized popcorn, that pretty much means I’ll only be eating crap the rest of the trip.  I find it’s very difficult to bring fruit and vegetables on a trip, but not hard to bring pop tarts and beef jerky.  (aka stinky meat)  Don’t worry though, as soon as we got home, I sent Billy to Sprouts to get us our regular foods-like apples, bananas, and red peppers.  Hopefully I can get some into my system as quickly as possible, due to the fact that I’m pretty sure I have a bowel obstruction. 

Seriously, have you ever been to Glenwood Springs?  I am a Colorado girl, born and raised but had never had the chance to visit Glenwood until now.  I’m not sure what even drew me to pick that particular destination spot way back in March when I was making plans, but boy am I glad I did.  Glenwood Springs is only about a 3 hour drive from Denver, (unless you have to stop at Colorado Mills to visit the Lego store first).  The drive is absolutely gorgeous, and perfect for the kids to watch one movie and yet still have time to ride a while without technological stimulation.  They complained about having to sit and do nothing, which gave Billy and I the motivation we needed to talk about taking road trips with our families when we were children.  Billy had siblings way older than himself, so he didn’t have to share a backseat with others, whereas I did.  I was the youngest of three and was given a four inch slab in the middle to sit and if I began to teeter towards either of my siblings, I was punched in the arm.  Billy felt my story was a bit depressing, so he reminded the kids it was my birthday so they sang to me all the way into the heart of Glenwood Springs.

We arrived around dinner time and decided we’d drive around to see what our options were.  If you have children, you understand that window of time is small, and once the complaining starts, it’s best to just find a McDonalds.  They all got happy meals, while Billy and I were patient enough to find a hole in the wall burger joint called The Grind.  It was totally worth the wait.  After that we got comfortable in our hotel and let the kids swim until bedtime.  The next day was amazing as we spent it in the Hot Springs pools all day.  The kids accused Billy of passing gas when we first arrived, but I explained to them it was just the sulfur coming from the hot spring water.  Everyone but Faith went home sunburned, even after putting sunscreen on several times.  Jack and Will have never really burned, so they were sure to mention it about every 8 seconds.  We spent the whole next day at the Glenwood Adventure Park, which almost didn’t happen for a couple of us who are afraid of heights, as the only way to get to the Park is via GONDOLA.  Jack and I decided to “cowboy up” and just go have fun. 

The first thing we did was a cave tour—I was enjoying it until Billy kept bragging to the group that he’d been “cave kissed” two times.  Apparently if a drop of water falls on you while on the tour, it’s a sign of good luck.  The tour is actually really interesting and the kids loved every minute of it.  Each one of the kids got to hold the guide’s flashlight and lead the way, while I followed in the back hoping we weren’t going to be attacked by rabid bats.  The cave tour ends right near a ride that Faith has been talking about for months.  It’s a giant swing that goes way out over a cliff.  I was so hopeful that she’d be too short to go, but nope, she wasn’t.  The boys and I stood off to the side and watched as they prepared to swing.  As the teenage boy was locking them in, I yelled to Billy, “Hey you guys can still get off ya know”  and Billy replied with a stern look that meant,  “maybe try not to project your unhealthy fears onto our daughter”, so instead of yelling again, I just kept saying over and over, “Oh dear, I don’t like this at all”.   The ride only lasts about 20 seconds, but I was terrified for them.  They screamed and smiled the whole time, and when they got off, both of them were a bit shaky.  Faith wobbled over to me and said, “I just need a minute, my stomach got off course”.  She was so proud of herself for trying it, and while I love her adventurous spirit, I was glad she only wanted to go once. 

The rest of the day was spent on the Alpine coaster, Zipline, rock wall, and maze.   We had no idea how much fun Glenwood was going to be.  Each night we swam, watched House Hunters, and fell asleep exhausted from the excitement of a good full day.  Coming home is always a bit hard, as the bills have piled up, the grass has grown tall, and the laundry seems to never end.  These few days with my family has been a very sweet way to celebrate the 40 years I’ve lived on this earth.  God is good.  

Friday, May 25, 2012

Speaking of Jack, again...

Hey Peeps—

Summer has officially begun!  Yesterday when I picked up the kids from school, we danced and sang all the way to the car.  You know the song…”no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks”.  I was singing at the top of my vocal range, when Faith informed me that her teachers never gave her dirty looks.  We decided to ride home in quiet celebration.

About five minutes after we arrived home and the children had put all their backpacks, folders, and extra pencils away Will asked his sister, “Hey Faith, you wanna go play school?”  I swear to you he actually said those words.  After nine months of complaints, the boy finally has come to terms with becoming educated I guess. 

We’d been home a while when the kids sat down to eat lunch.  They were chattering on and on about their favorite memories from the year, and how much they will miss their friends.  As Will was literally taking a bite of his yogurt, he said, “Mom, can I have a snack?”  It was at this point I realized we needed to give a refresher course in “Summer at the Repennings, and how not to make mom go crazy”.   It includes such topics as:  The kitchen is not an open buffet,  and Why it is not a good idea to say the phrase, “I’m bored”.  The last topic is more of rule, than a subject, and only applies to our oldest son Jack.  The rule is he is only allowed three questions in a full 24 hour period.  (if you feel this is borderline abuse, feel free to come spend about an hour with the boy)

Speaking of Jack, I could not be more proud my firstborn.  Last night we attended his 6th grade graduation.  We were told in advance to bring tissues, as it was going to be a very emotional night.  I decided to wear a dress, much to Faith’s delight, and therefore had to use Billy’s pants pockets for my portion of tissues, chapstick, and various sundries.  We arrived a little early for the big event and as a family we walked Jack to his elementary school classroom one last time. 

Billy and I were keeping it together fairly well, that is, until the team of teachers came walking in holding hands, with the 6th grade class following behind.  Each kid looked so big and excited, and very proud to have a night be all about them.  Jack came in the gym looking around for us, in his white button down shirt and too big tie that he borrowed from his dad.  He looked handsome and even confident as he waved to us and smiled his big mischievous grin.  We couldn’t help but wave and smile back.  

As the program went on, we were thrilled to see our former principal, Mr. Munier—who came to help give out awards.  Almost all of the elementary teachers attended the event, in support of our kids, to hug each one individually as they received their certificates.  We sat in the bleachers looking in awe at the dedication of those teachers and our hearts overflowed with gratitude for the immeasurable amount of love and wisdom they have poured into Jack for the past seven years. 

The highlights of the night are too many to count, but I will say that when Jack’s teacher Mrs. Welch sang, “I hope you dance” I promise you there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.  It was not just a pretty song, but more of a prayer for every single one of those kids.  Jack’s other teacher, Mr. Burns spoke about maturity, and not being afraid to stay child-like as they continue their education.  As each one was called to get their certificate, the teachers gave them a specific character trait that described the child perfectly.  Jack was called “steadfast”, and Billy and I choked back our tears one more time as he made the way through the long line of hugs.  Jack was grinning from ear to ear as he hugged his teachers from kindergarten through 6th grade.  Each one has touched his life uniquely and he knows he’s been part of something special. 

The last thirty minutes of the program was a slideshow showcasing each child individually and with their friends over the years.  The music was fun and the pictures were met with a gazillion “Awwwws” throughout the whole thing.  We didn’t want the evening to end.  We stayed after talking to our special friends from years of car pools, field trips, and countless hours of standing out in front of the school waiting for the bell to ring.  These people are part of our family—we know their kids and they know ours, and saying goodbye felt bittersweet. 

So today is our first full day home together.  Faith is still in pajamas and it’s nearly 2 pm.  She and Will are playing “school” while Jack has two buddies over locked up in his room playing legos.  My chores are done, and there’s no place I’d rather be than right here watching life go by.