Wednesday, August 10, 2016

It's the end of an era....


The past week or so the boys really have been asking to stay home. So this week we are and today Jman said "I just want to play, let's not go anywhere!" 

This momma gladly said ok. 12. There are only 12 precious days left. Then it all changes. Jman starts full time school. And I am so sad! Seriously like crying every night, as I put him to bed, as I watch him sleep. Not crying because of the public school system, which I should, but seriously crying because it's ending. A precious, special time in his life and mine is ending. Ugh, here come the tears again. In the words of Rachel "It's the end of an era!!" People ask how I'm doing and I'm like I don't know. Some scoff at me that I say I don't want him to start school. This transition is hard. But you know what I don't care anymore. This is truly the end of a certain part of life. Sure school starts, you still have fun and play and they learn and they grow and you're so proud and I hear blah blah blah. Because these special preschool years are over. The days of staying home all day and do whatever we want are over. The pajama days and messy mud days are over. The science experiments and cooking breakfast together are over. The let's make cookies today are over. The endless laughter and sometimes fighting days are over. The let's get up and go exploring days are over. The let's build giant towers and use every block days are over.  The preschool days are over and I am in mourning. Serious mourning. This has been the best. There's not a day (even the really hard ones) that I wished I was somewhere else. That I wished for my old job back. Not one single one. This is what I'm good at. Being mommy. This is who God wanted me to be. And I am seriously sad at the change that is happening. I read a blog yesterday about change and how you should reflect on what you are losing and remember it. Prepare for the change together. So I'm blogging. I'm filling my heart with all the goodness and embracing the ache. Because it is OK to be sad about this. It is OK to not want it to happen. It would help if I was excited about the change and trusted it, but I don't. So these 12 precious days are ours. We are not sharing them. I am not letting anyone take them from me. We will make those memories that he will hold in his heart when days are hard. RC and I will fill up our hearts with Jmans laughter so on those lonely days we can look back. I will take a million pictures and videos so I can watch them while he is gone. And we are going to laugh and cry all the way up to that kindergarten drop off day. And no one will make us feel bad about it or tell me to just brush it off. Because it is the end of something and that deserves time to mourn over. 

Today I watched and listened to my boys laugh uncontrollably together. Most of it I just observed. Because these two brothers are going to miss each other. RC looks to Jman for every movement and he's going to be a little lost without him. They needed today to just fill their little souls up with joy. 

Our day consisted of giant train tracks, rescue bots, huge messy paint mess, water hose and mud making fun and lots of trampoline water tricks. This was just before 11. So here are some pictures. If you don't like mess, these will give you anxiety. Just a warning. I'm hoping when Jman is at school and hopefully missing us and being forced to sit way too long, he will remember how it felt to smear paint all over his body and mommy let me and how we made mud puddles and mommy let me. 

  Hope he remembers those moments and misses us because we sure will be missing him. And I will be looking for the best Jman hugs ever when he comes running out of school. 





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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Crying in Old Navy

There we were, at Old Navy, shopping for school clothes, picking out another shark shirt and I let it slip. School starts in about 3 weeks and there it was....the look of terror, the eyes welled up and it was proclaimed "I don't want to start school!" 

I have been very careful to not bring it up. I know Jman and how change is hard on him. He will worry and worry. I try not to talk about it because I don't want him heart broken, sad and full of anxiety until school starts. I hate all the pressure people put on these babies as they ask the very weighted question "are you ready for school?"  Honestly they have no idea what is about to fully happen. And that question brings more questions and anxiety than "oh yeah I'm ready!" 

So here we are and I let the time slip and his face dropped when he said "that's really close". And he started crying and saying he didn't want to go and how he wanted to go to the green house, he's changed his mind and my heart aches and all I could do was wrap him up and cry too. Because I don't want him to go either. Not because I'm not ready for him to go to kinder, he's ready for that, he will do well. I cry because I want the school system to be fixed in the next three weeks. I want them to remember they are teaching children and their goal should be to instill a love of learning. I want them to learn in age appropriate ways. I don't want them to squash my baby. So we cried. How I want to send him to the green house. How I want there to be a green house school all the way through these precious years. I try so hard to hide my own issues so he doesn't really know I want August 22 to never come. I try to say it will be fun and his teacher will be great and love him so much. Because that is my only hope that he has a wonderful teacher who hasn't been jaded or caught up in the demands of the school, that she might have forgotten why she started. I pray for that teacher. I can only pray that I fully put my trust in God because I know he goes with him wherever he goes. 

So I wrapped him up in the middle of Old Navy, both crying reassuring him I will be there to scoop him up when he gets home and be there through all his worries and anxieties. Because honestly I'm going to need that too from him. 

Disclaimer: I'm just sharing my heart here and my aches.  I'm not looking for advice on school or looking to hear how wonderful it will be. I've been there. I know what I really want. I know it's not what most want out of school. It's my own convictions and I know that. 

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Monday, June 27, 2016

You are a Marvel

Preschool years are a gift. There will never be another time like it. Where your children want every minute of your attention, so full of curiosity where they learn in mountain loads a day. When the preschool search began I knew it had to be special. A place that provided a loving, nurturing, no pressure environment. A school that treated these precious years with gentleness, kindness and lots and lots of play. Play. Somewhere in past few years that word has been taken from these children and from their learning environment. It has been replaced with expectations. So when the search for school began I had a hard time finding such a place I wanted to provide Jman with a gentle learning experience. A place that didn't expect them to learn a certain set of things. A place that didn't "prepare" them for kindergarten. A place that knew if you provided kids an environment that met their needs, they would excel, and learn and be ready for the future. A place that provided what was right developmentally so that each kid got where they needed to be naturally. No pressure. No expectations. I believed with all my heart this is what is best for my kid, and all kids. The search was hard and it was long. Nothing felt right for us. Sure there are lots of wonderful schools, and there is no right or wrong in what you choose for your family. We all are doing what we see is best for our kids.  But for mine there was a certain way I wanted to provide my son and I was on the search to find it.

One day I was driving our wonderful babysitter home. Like the best ever. She lives on the outside of the loop, a way I never drive. Never have a reason to. While driving her home I noticed a pumpkin patch. Cool I thought, note to self to take the boys. Then I saw the sign "Marvelously Made School" Another note to self, look up school. Continued on my way. Then looked up the website when I got home. There I read about this school that for the first time on my preschool hunt, made me excited. I contacted to go to the Open House. As soon as I walked in I felt it. Peace. There I heard the director and creator of the school, share all my teaching philosophies, all the ways child development should be taught, how children should explore and not be told what to do, how they are not expected to do anything that isn't appropriate for them, how children should be respected in every aspect of their lives. I heard how these kids were allowed to be kids. These kids were given the opportunity to learn through play. And I swear my heart sang. I couldn't wait to sign Jman up. And I'm pretty sure I asked for a job that night. Haha. For the first time in a VERY, VERY long time I saw that education was being treated right. I left the public school system so hard, and jaded because they do so many things wrong. It was so refreshing to see somewhere treating children right. Jman just finished his year at preschool, where we both cried about it ending.

I've been asked many times about this school. Why I love it, why I share so much about it. I think people realize its different and they're curious. So I decided to write some of my favorite things about Marvelously Made School For Young Children. A few, because I could go on and on.

1. Children are respected - They are treated as a person who is just as important as an adult. Their ideas, their needs are acknowledged and respected. They are given the time to say all they need to say or ask or work. They are not rushed. They are not rushed! The teachers know they are working and that is important. They don't have to stop what they are doing because you want them to do something else. When someone needs to talk they are fully listened to, children and adults wait until those speaking are finished before they can share what they need to say. Yes even the adults because a child needs to know they are important too. Children learn in this environment that they are important and they matter. They matter! Through being respected they learn to respect themselves, teachers, other children and property. They are not told how to be respectful, they are shown it and it shines through them. During gathering time, they learn to sit and listen to their teachers. Then they are given the opportunity to all speak whatever they need to share. All of them. And its amazing that these 30+ kids all sit and wait their turn. Through this they learn to respect their peers and that what they have to say matters and they will be equally respected. Jman has really shined with his confidence to speak up because of this. Before he wouldn't have spoke up, but since he was given the chance to feel safe and respected, he will speak up and talk to someone if he wants to.

2. Outdoor Classroom- First of all there's an OUTDOOR CLASSROOM. That is used as long as they want to stay out there. No 15 minute recess time. They can stay outside and work until their heart is content or its gathering time. Yes its as wonderful as it sounds. Outside is where so much learning happens without any effort. We love outside. It gives my boys the chance to use that energy, they contain so much of. One of my biggest worries of public school is that my children are stuck inside for too many hours, without the proper use of their energy they deserve. This outdoor classroom is huge. There's swings, a garden, a hill of mulch, a HUGE sand pit  (where J lived and brought most home in his shoes), a play kitchen where I've made mudpies, blocks, babies, art, science experiments, books, reading nooks, animals, a glue table, a tree log to hammer, screw, nail things into and much more. And its there inviting the kids to play, to learn, to create, to explore, to touch, to feel, to do.

Here's sand that he brought home in one day.

 This leads to my  next favorite thing is...

3. Freedom of choice - What the kids don't realize (this goes for inside and outside) that each station,  each object,  everything was chosen with a purpose. A purpose to engage and teach. What the children then have is the choice, where they work, what they do, for however long they would like, however they would like (safely of course:) )They work where they want for as long as they feel necessary. It is here where the teachers become observers. They watch and engage with the kids, asking questions, helping where needed but not forced. They do not tell the kids what to do, they don't show them what they do, they watch and engage when needed. This kind of environment goes against what society has created as the "normal" role of a teacher. However this is the environment kids will thrive in. Where their natural desire to learn will succeed and flourish! Believe me these teachers are teaching and they are encouraging learning. I've watched how far J has come this year. How this gentle, loving approach has really made him take off. They are learning through play. Which children should be allowed to do. Play. It is their right to play. I loved hearing all the science terms Jman would talk about and I would ask how they learned it and it was always some cool project. Like they learned how gravity works by letting paint drop down a canvas.
Here is one of their action paintings, where they learned how gravity works.

RC was fascinated with this, and it was one of two places I drug him away from every time I dropped J off. The other place was the sand pit.

4. Risks - If you know me, you know I'm a "let you try it" parent. That means I feel I know my boys, I trust their instincts and I let them try the scary, take those moments and be brave. I have one child who is very cautious and needs encouragement, he gets gentle pushes when needed, and he knows I am there to catch him if he should fall.  The other needs no encouragement, he was climbing stairs before crawling, climbing ladders before walking, mastering 15 foot rockwalls before age 2, and recently riding bikes twice his size. I have gotten my share of gasps at the park, and watched others jump to help my children. But I believe in risk taking. I feel they are going to learn what they can or can't do taking those risks. Obviously this is with supervision, and I would never let them do something that would be truly harmful. I'm not negligent. MM is a risk taking school. They are allowed to try that new thing, they are trusted and being watched closely too. They are allowed to take those risks to see what happens, what is the effect, is it a good idea or not. How else are you going to discover something new if you don't try something new? Take those risks, they are learning opportunities.

5. Problem Solving - The kids are trusted to work out their problems with friends. They are talked to and everyone is listened to. They are not told what they should do, but respected and guided as they figure it out together. They are not placed in time out and told to think about what they did wrong. They are given the opportunity to work it out together and move on. Which provides a life long skill of problem solving and learning to work with others.

6. There is no pressure or expectations - This seems to be what drives most schools now. People are in a panic that their kid won't be prepared for what's to come. So they push and expect more than what is developmentally appropriate. This is one of the reasons I waited until Jman was 4 to put him in school. I didn't feel I needed to prepare him for school. I want school to be a place he wants to go and learns because he is ready. If you wait and do things as developmentally appropriate, something amazing happens, they learn as they should. I have not wanted my kid to spout off all his letters at the age of  2, I have not expected him to do things just to "check" that box. I let him lead, and learn as he is ready. MM nurtures that. They learn what they are ready to learn. They are ready for the next step because they are developmentally ready. They are not "prepared" to be ready. They are ready  because they were given the chance to just develop. Its a magical process. They are spending their time focusing on self care, social skills and motor skills,  that are often skipped because we are pushing our kids to "know" so much information.

7. Its cozy - Seriously I can't describe this,  you need to go see it. It is such a welcoming environment that anyone can learn here and wants to. Its not overwhelming or over stimulating. Its beautiful.

8. Animals- There are animals everywhere. Rabbits, bearded dragon, chickens, tortoise, lots of animals. From which they learn how God created each one and we are to take care of and not harm God's creations. They are allowed to explore and catch other animals, to observe and gently release. Jman caught frogs, and I heard once it was kept in his pocket, thankfully it was returned before coming home. I saw a rhino beetle for the first time in my life. What an amazing experience to see so many different kinds of animals, how to care for them and feed them, to be able to observe and touch.

9. Mud Day- We love mud! Its not uncommon for us to be digging and making our own mud days at home. What a joy it was to watch mud day on a large scale. Kids sliding and throwing, smushing and digging. Certainly a day to remember  It was a joy to be apart of this day and watch all the fun take place. I certainly love mud days from college.

10. No Parties- Ok I'm not against class parties. However I enjoyed this year, not having to participate in this. There are many things you say before you're a parent of what you will do with your  kids. Usually once you have kids, that goes out the window! I have one however that I stuck to. No Santa or Easter bunny. Now I'm not judging anyone who does this, everyone is entitled to do what is best for their family. In our house we focus on Jesus. So I was beyond ecstatic when Christmas came at school and I hear they are having a birthday party for Jesus! More heart singing. This is what its about. The kids made gifts for Jesus. The day was about Jesus. I know that soon that will not be the case at school. The world is going to tell my kids so many things that are not Jesus, so I am going to fill them up with Jesus as much as I can so they can fight that. To see a school put their focus on Jesus is amazing.
Making his present for Jesus

Birthdays are honored and they get to decorate this for their birthday.

11. LOVED - Every single kid. Every single sibling. Every single parent. Are loved. Each child is treated as the unique person God created them to be. They are marvelously made, each and every one. They are encouraged to be who they are and let their unique gifts shine. They are loved! My favorite part had to be at the end of year program where I heard the teachers bless the kids with their unique gifts. Lifting them up and filling their little hearts up. I may have cried, which is an impossible task!

This school has become such a part of us. Its a place full of joy and safety. When I dropped J off everyday I knew he was going to come home joyful and wanting to go back. I wish this environment for every kid. I wish that schools like this became the norm and people would get back to the root of childhood. Let them be little, and enjoy every minute of it.

MM provides that environment. You should check it out for yourself :)

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Summer Exploring Adventure Number One

We are on a mission to make this the best summer ever! You know since our world is about to drastically change. Not a change I am looking forward to or a good one. But that's a post for another time.

We plan to go exploring at least once a week, hopefully to find some new places. Being outside is like magic. It brings happiness, it stops fighting, it brings exploring and learning, it uses the senses, it uses that wonderful boy high energy up, and its fun. Last night we decided to take a stop by our favorite park after dinner. I took RC a couple days ago and we discovered that it had flooded over the side walk, making a perfect toddler swimming pool. Where RC had a blast "swimming".

We had to make another stop for Jman to see the water, it had already gone down and we decided to check on our secret spot "The Seiford Watering Hole". It was much fuller than  usual. We saw a small waterfall, threw a whole bunch of rocks, fell in the water, made a lot of splashes, collected some rocks for painting. We learned. We found a fossil, where I learned J already knew about those, we talked about how you can discover how shallow or deep water is by the sound a rock makes when you throw it. Therefore learning how far we should venture into the water by sound. We explored, we laughed and we had fun! Falcone Park has a lot more to offer than just a playground.. Next week we will find somewhere new to explore and get dirty.

PS: Stride Rites new Phibian shoes are awesome! RC didn't slip once.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

My Story

Wow look I still have a blog. Been a long time. I want to write and then I start to and just can't put my words into action and my blog just sits here. Its really ridiculous because I need to write, its good for me and my soul. Maybe its because I have to type and I would rather actually write with pen and paper. This week was tea and testimony at MOPS and I knew I needed to speak this year. I wrote one two years ago and then woke up with fever and couldn't speak, so I posted it here.  My MOPS Coordinating days are quickly coming to an end and i'm sad. It makes me sad. Its been a great two years. Its been something that has pushed me and something I have loved.  My story has changed in the last two years with this journey as coordinator. I figured I would share it. Yesterday was hard to share, I'm not the best public speaker and I would rather someone read it for me. So writing it here feels more comfortable and natural.

If you knew me as a little girl you wouldn't recognize me now. I certainly would never be up in front of 40 women speaking, willingly. I would rather have died. As a girl you would find me scowling and permanently attached to the back of my dad's leg. You know its really hard to play tee ball there, I tried. It was safe there, behind  my daddy. You guessed it. I was shy. So shy it was painful. I heard the word shy more than my name. I remember praying to get sick to miss out on school presentations. I actually got so sick that week. I remember the teasing, the hurtful words, the embarrassment. Shy is a dangerous word, one that shouldn't be tossed around lightly. Its a label. A hard one to overcome, to outgrow, to become something different. Yet here I am. In front of people speaking, and only slightly wanting to die. God works in us. Changing us as we grow. It took a long time to get here, to discover myself and not let the word shy be the only one to describe me. Knowing what I do now, the words extremely introverted would be right. I hate unexpected attention, I hate being called out or embarrassed, I write better than I speak, I don't speak up unless I feel its really important and I crave alone time daily. Like no one in the room alone. Every. Single. Day. Or I will shut down. Being in front of people is hard for me. I almost backed out of today. Walking down the aisle at my wedding was awkward and not fun. Why couldn't everyone just stare at Kevin? Thank goodness for daddys who hold your hand. At least I didn't hide behind his leg this time. People who knew me growing up would laugh to see me in a leadership position.

So I wanted to share how that shy little girl ended up here. God. It is all God.

I dreamed of being a teacher, a kindergarten teacher. College did not prepare me for that at all. Ok I knew how to teach but I missed the class on politics, drama and that frustrations that came with it. I was a good teacher, put my all into it but it began to eat at me. The unrealistic expectations, feeling like I was never good enough, always being beat down. I wanted out. Then God gave me a gift. An 8 pound, blue eyed little boy gift. We named him Jack. I remember the moment our eyes met. My heart melted and that second my life changed. Suddenly my purpose was clear. I didn't know I was missing it, but I was. Motherhood. My purpose, my passion became the job to raise and love this child.

I went back to teaching and hand no idea the hardship I was about to endure. I thought at first it was just adjustment, things would get easy, become normal again. I would balance work and family. They didn't get easy. They got worse. Everyday I ripped my heart from my chest, and wrapped it up and sent it to my moms with Jack. It hurt. I was miserable then add to it I had the worst class I had had in 7 years of teaching, some difficult team members to work with. The drama, the negativity were unreal. I had to fight the urge daily to not walk out of my class and run to my baby. I was being swallowed up by anger, stress, frustration, negativity, depression and guilt. Oh the guilt! Many mornings I sat in the front of the school in my car, waiting until the last second to go in. Fighting the urge to leave and not come back. The mama bear in me wanted out.

One day I confessed to my husband "I just can't do it anymore!" and he said "I know" And we figured out a way to change our lives. I still had over half the school year to finish and suffer through but at least there was hope. God all year had been pulling and yelling at me "this is not what I want for you. You have a new purpose" My new purpose was to be just mom and invest in my family. I couldn't handle working mom. I was not ok with being mediocre either. I finished my year and ran out the door with joy.

It took some time to recover from that person I became. Someone I was not proud of. The anger and the guilt subsided. God forgives. People forgive when you ask.

The next fall I joined MOPS. I wasn't sure what I would find here. It was a quiet year, I kept to myself, healing and guarding myself. And loving every minute of staying home. Feeling like I was actually good at something. Soon to find out baby boy 2, our wild thing was on the way. At the end of the year Tina asked me to join leadership. It hadn't crossed my mind. I'm not leadership material (or so I thought) I said yes. One of my best yesses ever! Suddenly this mom thing turned into connections, friendships and a tribe to support each other in this Mommy thing, which is not easy.

I started pushing out of that shy, introverted girl. Finding how my passion for motherhood was bigger than just my boys. When someone asks you to join leadership, know its for a reason, they see something in you that you may not see yourself. I know God led Tina that day. Just as he led me a year later. During a MOPS meeting I felt him tap on me and say "Ask about becoming coordinator" Wait? What? God you remember that shy, introverted girl that you made. I can't be coordinator, not my gift, you meant someone else. "Go ask!" So I went up to Tina and said "How do I become you? you know coordinator?" I couldn't believe I said it. If I hadn't answered God's push that morning I probably never would have. And we all know how that goes when you ignore God. Tina explained to me how I would be co coordinator for two years and then coordinator for two. I went home to tell my husband and he laughed, just as any person who really knows me would. Within that week things changed and two years became right now. And I was going to be coordinator starting that year. What? I'm not ready. I can't. I'm not equipped. But I was. God showed me that being a leader is about serving. Its not about being upfront and flashy, or even a look at me position. Its about serving others. 1 Peter 4:10 says "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace, in various forms." How I got here was fast and unexpected but I have felt God's hand the whole time. It has been a wonderful blessing to me to serve. My prayer these 2 years has been to serve you, to make you feel loved, encouraged, wanted and noticed. That this journey of motherhood hasn't swallowed you up and you aren't alone. I never would have guessed God would use me as a mom the way he has. That shy, introverted girl. But he gave us all our own gifts to use. Some come easy and others are there to push us. I took a spiritual gift test last year with my sunday school class and my top three were service, faith and number 1- you guessed it, leadership. I just laughed! Not because its unimaginable but because how God uses us. He creates all so uniquely and uses us in ways we don't expect. I've accepted the irony of that shy girl being up here in a leader role. God has been working in me my whole life. Preparing me to be a mom, having me fall in love with motherhood and falling in love with moms and wanting to serve them through this journey. He used motherhood to push me out of my comfort zone. It changed me from that dark, angry person to someone who sees beauty in others. I used to hang my head down, avoiding eye contact and hoping no one spoke to me. Now I hope I greet others with a smiles and joy.

I feel like being just mom is my purpose, God's will and i'm ok with that. It doesn't mean its always easy. My beautiful boys drive me to the crazy house daily. They paint my couch purple and rub poop in my carpet (not kidding!)  They reveal in me my worst qualities. But they bring more joy and laughter that I thought possible. They make me grow and want me to better myself. Everyday I see the miracles of God in their eyes.

Being called mommy is the greatest gift. It has been an honor to serve as your MOPS coordinator these past 2 years. It has taught me how to be a better mom, friend, person. It has allowed me to use gifts God has given me. Thank you.

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