The Long Journey Home…

My PostTwenty years ago this upcoming fall Eric came home to our 1930’s eight hundred square foot salt box two bedroom home in Ozark, Arkansas and told me he was being transferred with Cargill, Inc. to Waco, Texas. He, being a native Texan, was excited. I, on the other hand, a native Arkansan, was not.

After lots of tears on my part, we put the miles between my home state and headed toward Texas. At the time I thought it only had to be for a little while. Five years later and a baby on the way, we contemplated coming back to Arkansas. I sought opportunities but nothing came our way. At that time I fully embraced that Arkansas would be my childhood home and where Eric and I met and fell in love, but  Waco, Texas would be our forever home.

Six months after EmBug was born we made the decision for me to stay at home. I was connecting with other young moms and embracing the idea of motherhood, growing as a person and learning about the me outside of a career. It seemed to be a perfect time and about the time I was becoming content in my new normal Eric came home to share we were moving again. This time I wasn’t as resistant and ultimately we were staying in Texas, my adopted home state.

Our move to Fort Worth (Keller area) was exciting. I was expecting Kritter and we moved into our new much bigger home than the one in Waco just a week before my third trimester. On the surface everything seemed to be going great.

However, the next few years were a series of ups and downs that challenged our strength, caused us to question our faith, and left us wondering. We experienced extreme joy, incredible celebrations, terrible loss and painful disappointment.

Extreme joys and celebrations included the birth of Kristopher, me returning to my love of teaching as a third grade classroom teacher in Haslet, Texas (north of Fort Worth) and us buying a home on some land in “the country.”

In the time we were in Texas we continued to bring the kids back to Arkansas to go to Razorback games, visit sights and see family and friends. We also, through Eric’s career and professional contacts developed a sweet friendship with Ed and Carey Ruff. Ed and his Dad, David, owned Morrilton Packing Company. We would see them at Eric’s professional conventions and occasionally in Arkansas. There was occasionally a brief and casual conversation about Eric coming to Arkansas to work for the Ruff’s, but nothing very serious.

Then a series of events beyond our understanding or reason began to happen for Eric. Every time we thought we were moving forward, him in his career, us as a family, it was as though life would take a sucker punch to the gut and rob us of the opportunity to exhale. It was beyond our comprehension why this kept happening, but we didn’t doubt God loved us, and he would bring us through this just as he had brought us through so many other trials.

During probably the fifth sucker punch event in less than a year in May of 2017, Ed and Dave Ruff called Eric. The same week they offered him an opportunity to come to Morrilton Packing Company in Morrilton, Arkansas EmBug, as an incoming freshman, made Eaton High School Theater Production, an audition only high school theater class. We told the Ruff’s no.

The crazy thing is even though we said no to the job opportunity, we did decide it was time to sell our home in “the country.” While in the process of listing the house the Ruff’s came back with an offer we couldn’t refuse. The kids and I would stay here and allow EmBug to finish High School while Eric would set up our future home in Arkansas, work at Morrilton Packing Company and come back to Texas on weekends. We would make the trip to Arkansas on long weekends and holidays.

Eric had spent so much time on the road when he was in sales and service that we felt the adjustment would not be to hard.

Now I look back at the last almost twenty years. I see how many times I had my timeline and God had his. In every situation it was for his glory, to build my faith and to trust his timing.

Do I think we should have moved with Eric? No, not at all. God has been moving in our family in quiet and unseen ways. He has strengthened our marriage, is teaching our kids to trust Him and is continually showing us all his timing is perfect. So while we originally thought we would be staying for four more years, we decided, with God’s guidance, one year was just right.

Soon we will be packing our things and putting miles between my “adopted home” of Texas to come back home to my childhood home, where a piece of my heart never left. And while the journey back may have seemed long, every day my heart was brought back to the one true home of my Savior and my God. Arkansas may be our forever home… but at this point it is our here on earth home. Wherever we reside, my faith and trust will be in Christ.

 

Finding THE “One Word”…

Early December of 2017 I started thinking about “One Word” for 2018. As the “keeper” of so much of our families events, activities and daily living, it became very apparent that before I selected a personal “One Word,” my family needed their own “One Word” we could all get behind, use to push us forward, anchor our core values, and weather the challenges that would be coming our way.

joshua tree family picIt wasn’t until we took our family trip starting New Year’s Day 2018 (a new Christmas gift tradition for the kids), that the uninterrupted family time could provide opportunity for organic conversations and discussions to take place helping us select our word. It was on third day of our trip to California, as we drove through the vastness of the Joshua Tree National Park that we began to discuss what the Wilson Family’s “One Word” would be. To keep each individual’s ideas respected and honest, each family member was to submit three words to me. After some time given to ponder, each family member submitted their three words.

Words submitted were:

patience, exceed, thrive, nice, understanding, anticipate, intentional, dedicate, faith, serendipity, embrace (2)

Using a loose version of the “Affinity Map Protocol” from my educational coaching tool box, we put the words into related or similar groups and then looked for what might be similar or capture the meaning of all of our words into either a new word or a word that had already been part of our original list of words.

Our “One Word” wasn’t decided by the end of our trip. We revisited it several times.

Mid-January we moved toward the word “Embrace.” The timing of our family knowing this was the word was truly God’s timing.

Yet, I waited to write about it for almost a month. It was a word we had to “try on.”

It has found it’s way into many conversations with our children, with our marriage and with our interactions with others. Most of all it has defined how we, as a family, are walking in faith, trusting God’s plan and EMBRACING his will for us.

Embrace, as a noun, means “an act of accepting or supporting something willingly or enthusiastically;” as a verb, means “accept or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically.”

Whether as a noun or verb, the response is willingly and/or enthusiastically. So whatever we as a family encounter, or have an opportunity to impact, we will EMBRACE with willingness and enthusiasm.

_And for this further reason we render unceasing thanks to God, that when you received God's Message from our lips, it was as no mere message from men that you embraced it, but as--what

“Embrace” is our family’s “One Word” that confirmed my personal “One Word” for 2018. If you are interested in my personal “One Word” you can learn more about that through my professional blog “Tag You’re It.”

 

Learning to Love the Laundry…

laundry picIt has been a while. There has been a lot that has happened in the last five months. So much so that I am not sure even where to start. We have seen God work in amazing ways. However, it doesn’t go without saying there have been trials;To the point that I have looked forward to the steady, regular chore of doing the laundry.

The adventure began in mid-June with Eric heading into a new job/career working with people who value his expertise and care about his entire well-being… in ARKANSAS. At the same time we were seriously considering selling our home in Texas. The job change just pushed us toward making that a reality. In the same turn we made a decision for the kids and I to stay in Texas. This would allow me time to prepare for finding a job in Arkansas in education and honor the direction EmBug is headed with her passion for the Theater and Vocal Arts and keep the course with the phenomenal programs offered in the district she currently attends school.

On top of all that another transition was us purchasing a home in Greenbrier, Arkansas where Eric will reside during the week near his job. Eric would then spend time in Texas on the weekends, and the kids and I have a “vacation home” to hang out on long weekends and holidays.

To further the changes Kritterman started Middle School and EmBug entered High School. It has been a roller coaster of changes. So when I say that I have learned to love the laundry, it is a strange, but true statement.

No matter the chaos, the laundry must be done. No matter what made the piles of dirty clothes, once they are clean they are ready to be worn again. I find myself folding the kids and my clothes from the past week and remembering the small moments when they were wearing a certain t-shirt and quipped some humorous comment, or how one certain item is in the laundry every week… and I smile, because I know in our upheaval, the kids have a piece of clothing that brings them consistency and comfort. Every time I do the laundry (usually over the weekend in about a 12 hour stint) I get a certain excitement in feeling like I am giving my whole family a chance start another week with a fresh start, just like Jesus gives us grace and a fresh start.

So, I am learning to love the laundry, my hope is that I am also giving this blog I write about our family life a fresh start. Our Razorback Ranch may have a few changes (the Razorback Ranchette in Texas and the New Razorback Ranch North in Arkansas) but the heart of our home is in our family and no matter where we are, we have the laundry I am learning to love for the consistency and continuity it represents. With that I am wanting to share our journey in simple uncomplicated ways and how God works… even in the tedium of laundry.

This is a STAGE in life… right?

I love my kids. I love my husband. I love my job. I love serving in my church. I love my family. I love my friends.

Easter 2017

Easter 2017 with Eric. Love this picture of us!

I love spending time with my kids and my husband. I don’t see my time I spend on my work outside of the normal working day as intrusive or excessive; I enjoy every minute of my job, even when some days the hours are long. I love serving in my church. I love and treasure the time I spend with my family. Unfortunately, not much is left for my friends.

As my time is being taken up more by my children’s events and activities, it leaves very little time for “friend time.” For me, if there is a conflict between my children’s events and activities, time with my husband and/or family time and an opportunity to spend it with my friends… it will always be kids, husband and family. Right now those conflicts are happening so much, I find myself disconnected from friends.

It’s my fault. However, I wouldn’t change the decision I have made to put my kids/ husband/family first. I have even seen it said that if you find your friendships fading it is because you have become self-absorbed or busy with your life, and not taken the time to invest in your friendships. I don’t disagree… but I can’t tell my kids I won’t be at their events, performances and moments. I also can’t tell my husband I would rather go out with the girls on a Saturday night after he has been traveling weeks at a time and wants to spend time with me.

So that brings me back to finding myself disconnected from friends. I don’t like that my friendships have grown apart, that I don’t have meaningful conversations with my friends on a frequent basis, or that I don’t get invited to fun nights out. That is on me.

So I ask myself, how do I fix that?

Well, you have to be a friend to have a friend, right? That requires time and investment, and I am right where I started. So I think I am resigning myself to the truth about this time in my life… it is a STAGE.

Kinder round up kris

Text from the parents of a family that Kritter gave a tour for Kindergarten Roundup. This is the school where he attends and I am the Assistant Principal.

I apologize to all my friends who may have assumed that I just didn’t want to be friends anymore because I never call… not true. I just am trying to stay one football game and musical performance ahead of my kiddos and still have a meaningful marriage.

I hope I don’t look back and regret that I didn’t make more effort to find the time for my friends. I do know I don’t regret a moment I have been present to treasure my husband or my kids.

It has been the surprise moments where I have chosen to be there for my kids that I have seen God work. Seen how they are growing up into amazing adults. They have also seen how their mom and dad love each other, because we spend what little time we have, together. So this STAGE… it won’t be long, and I am working on being content with that.

EmBug, age 14, Leading Youth Worship May 3rd, 2017

Hitting the Reset Button…

Reset buttonSince the last post “In This Storm,” our family has experienced first hand God’s providence and care. Eric has been restored to full employment. I have been blessed to transition into a new position as assistant principal at an elementary near our home in the school district I have worked for the past 8 years. Emmarie was able to go on a mission trip to Corpus Christi (mom, too), attend UNT Choir Camp, go to Summer Church Camp and end the summer starting rehearsals for the Middle School Musical, Lion King. Kristopher became fully engrossed in the digital phenomenon of Pokemon, Go!, created stop motion videos via NISD Stop Motion Camp and continued to learn more about robotics through the NISD Lego Robotics camp.

I will not minimize that the first half of 2016 was rough. I have said many times in the first six months of this year… “I am ready for 2017, 2016 needs to make a quick exit!” However, I would not trade the life lessons: our family growing closer through the difficulties and seeing my children, husband and my own faith grow. These experiences have also helped me to be grateful and less consumed with the small “hiccups of life.”

As educators, we have two New Year’s. There is January 1st and then there is the first day of a new school year. We are lucky to have the opportunity to start a new calendar year and then a new school year. This year I am using it as a “reset button.”

We have already faced some challenges with our “new normal.” This includes Eric being in California for 10 days and missing Meet the Teacher and our first day of school. That’s not what we are going to focus on, rather, we are looking forward to the ways we can embrace the changes.

Sendera Admin TeamPart of that is me reaching out to my village of support, setting aside my default to do everything on my own, and not stressing about the small stuff. God has got this and he has already placed me in a web of support that is better than I could have ever hoped.

Here’s to the 2016-17 school year and hitting the reset button!

 

EmBug’s Top 14 of 2015

EmBug is our STAR, if there is a stage she is most at home, front and center. It’s not that she demands that attention off the stage, she’s actually very quick to disappear into a crowd, but when given an authentic stage, the audience, the script/song and the spotlight, she shines. Here are the top ways she “shined” in 2015.

Em techno expo 1514. February 26th EmBug presented twice at Techno Expo (Our School District’s Student Technology Showcase). She shared her Google Site of her Summer Reading Project and her group collaboration on Mechanical Energy.

13. Singing in any situation keeps EmBug’s spirits high and anyone else around her. Her rendition of “Don’t Rain on my Parade” in early March while doing the dishes entertained many when Kirsten posted on Facebook.

12. Performing as Dionysus, the main narrator, of the Greek Theater festival at her middle school at the end of March.greek festival em 2015

11. Performing at NISD Spring Solo and Ensemble and earning I’s in mid- April.Solo Ensemble Orchestra 15

10. Performing in her last concert with, the children’s performance choir, Cantare’ on April 30th.



9. It began in May and was an amazing experience, and still is. EmBug now sings with the FOTP Worship Band during youth and adult services on various occasions during worship services.

8. The end of 2014-15 School Year Awards EmBug earned Top PreAP 6th Grade Girl for Science and Top 6th Grade Girl Theater student.

6th grade EOY Awards EmBug

7. May 31st she competed in the National Guild Piano competition… our pianist earned a Superior Plus Rating (national standing). She performed 10 songs fully memorized and perfectly executed before a nationally certified judge.

National Piano Guild Awards 2015 EmBug.jpg

6. In June EmBug and Kirsten went on their first mission trip to Houston, Texas. The Houston Mission trip with Fellowship of the Parks (FOTP) Youth to the 5th Ward helping with Generation ONE was an amazing experience for both and are already making plans to participate in this year’s FOTP Youth Mission Trip.

5. Once again our thespian tried out for our district’s Middle School Musical and earned a part in the play “High School Musical.” She played the role of “Cyndra”- a very mislead self-proclaimed “opera singer.” It was a thrill to see her and her fellow cast come alive and deliver an outstanding performance that rivaled college theater performances.

EmBug in HS Musical

4. This next mention can’t capture the hard work and determination that EmBug put into polishing her gift of singing. She started her 7th grade year in the 7th Grade Concert Girls Choir after trying out in the spring for Varsity Girls Choir and not making it. Her dyslexia has always required her to work harder and learn additional strategies to succeed at the highest level. At the tryouts the sight reading proved to be too much. Even though we thought that there was no chance to make it into the Varsity Choir in the fall, she worked all summer long to improve her sight reading skills. A change in staff in the choir department in August opened up the opportunity for an additional chance to try out and this time she made it into the Varsity Girls Choir with flying colors. However, the story doesn’t end there. She then determined that she would make the All Region Choir. In the midst of all preAP classes, piano lessons, musical practice, church volunteer work, youth group and family responsibilities she persevered and practiced. She tried out and made 4th Chair Second Soprano in the Highest All-Region Choir. A huge accomplishment for anyone but an even greater personal success for a 7th Grade girl who struggles with sight reading due to Dyslexia.

All Region Choir 15 EmBug.jpg

Lion With Wardrobe Fall 15.jpg

3. In the fall EmBug’s One Act Play class performed “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.” While she did not have a speaking part, she did enjoy imitating a deer. What was more impressive is that Kirsten successfully crafted a “deer-like” costume for her. We are not sure if this is one of EmBug’s top celebrations or Kirsten’s! 🙂

EmBugs 13th Bday

2. Teenager in the House! This year EmBug crossed the threshold into “teenager.” She is never without a creative thought or idea. Her celebration with friends this year was no different. She planned the whole outing, having her friends take a timed trip to Goodwill with $15 to find items to dress like a Christmas symbol or character they pulled from a hat. Then the entourage was chauffeured by Mama Wilson to the Fort Worth Stockyards where they completed the Maze… made famous by the Reality TV Show “Amazing Race.” This was followed by a “selfie” treasure hunt challenge also planned by EmBug. The night ended by watching “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and eating pizza. There was no lack of giggling and it was a memorable night for all the girls.

1. This year we added a new tradition to our Christmas Eve. Embug helped as part of a Candlelight Choir during our church’s four Candlelight Christmas Eve Services. As she grows up her activities change. What an awesome opportunity to watch her use her gifts to bring joy to others. What was more exciting was the opportunity for EmBug and Kirsten to sing in the last service together.

EmBug and the Cat Sling

There are many other items we could include. The dance where she “Wobbled” her way out of her knee cap. Her Student Council and Fellowship of Christian Athletes leadership and participation. Her work with the 3 year-olds at Church on Sundays. Her culinary curiosity that has led to many a prepared meal for the family. Even her winning the FOTP Youth Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest might be worth mentioning, but seriously, at this point only the grandmothers are reading this and it has to stop somewhere! She is an amazing daughter and we are so looking forward to every day and what it will bring.

Here’s to another amazing year with EmBug!

Where did the time go?

Christmas party parker products 2015

Somewhere between the last snow day in March of 2015 and January 1st, 2016 my good intentions and many plans to blog about events, activities and celebrations remained unwritten and many images are still stored in “the cloud.”

So in an attempt to capture what was missed the next 3 posts for “The Wilson Family Stories from Razorback Ranch” blog will consist of a list of Embug’s, Kritterman’s and our Family’s top events of 2015.

Hopefully in 2016 the posts will be frequent, short and keep us smiling!

 

#digitalLearning… It’s a Family Affair

FullSizeRender[1]The district I work for, and where the kids attend school, puts on Techno Expo, a technology integration showcase, of exemplar student work (a byproduct of their learning) every year at the end of February. The last two years, in my current role as an Instructional Technology Coach, I have co-hosted the production of this event with my entire IT team.

Our district of 20,000+ students is provided this opportunity to showcase their best technology integrated work. From all of the submissions approximately 1,200 student products are selected as the exemplar products to be presented by the students on this night. This year I was part of another spectacular showcase. Even more exciting was being able to take time to be a proud mom as well.

 

FullSizeRender_1[1]This year Emmarie had two presentations. Her first presentation was with a team of girls who put together a video documenting a Science PBL demonstrating potential and kinetic energy with the use of eggs and soda. The second presentation was over her Google Site that showcased various content addressing standards through her summer reading selection. In both situations she shared not only her knowledge of the content but her skill in creating the products presented.

FullSizeRender_2[1]On the same night Kristopher was also featured with his tutorial video created for the districts Lego Robotics programs. He had gone to a specific campus to support them as they began their Lego Robotics unit and from that created a screencast to support those learners as well as future learners who may need the resource. His presentation was impressive as he shared how he created the video but also how screencasting could be used to capture student learning.

For me it was a proud moment: as a mom, as an educator, and as a member of this community. My children amaze me constantly and this evening’s event was no exception. Their commitment to learning, excellence and service is incredible. Eric and I have been blessed and know that God has and will do great things through our children.

FullSizeRender_3[1]It is amazing to watch God work through my children and see prayers I uttered sometimes years ago and sometimes moments before answered in ways I never dreamed.

What amazing ways do children in your life amaze you? How is God working through you and those around you?

Laundry Basket Sleds and Snow Days…

Every kid dreams of it…. the illustrious “Snow Day.” They are not a come lately event here in Texas, so when our “Snow Day” event comes along it is like a major event in history. My kids recall events from their winters tied to a snow day. Embug might say, “Remember in 1st grade when there was already 2 inches of snow on the ground and Daddy drove us to school only for us to be dismissed early? That was the year I worked with Mrs. Friday on my reading after school.” or “Remember in 4th grade when I made snow angels in the driveway in my PJs when you told us we didn’t have school that morning? That was the year I was elected to be in Student Council.”

Snow Days hold great importance to this family. Not because we all haven’t experienced snow. Goodness knows both my time in Michigan as an adolescent and Eric’s time in Connecticut and Massachusetts provided us more than our fair share, which one might add was too far north to get a snow day! They are important because they are like a much needed pause button in the race of life. We get a chance to connect, slow down and enjoy just being together.

Below is a Flipagram of some of our “Snow Day” pics of this past winter. We actually had very unusual, and late snow events this year… yes we had more than one!

What is your “history making” Snow Day memory?

 

Our Little (?) Sweetheart…

Valentine Sweetheart Embug February 2015

Valentine Sweetheart Embug February 2015

In the fall Embug attended her first school dance. This girl loves a good party, especially where there is lots of good dance music. So when it was announced there would be a “Valentine Dance” we knew she would be going.

Now that she had gone to the first dance, she had even more ideas on how to prep for this one. The search for the perfect dress began early in January. I had many an email, text and conversation with her over just the right RED dress. I loved all of her choices. All modest and reminiscent of the Audrey Hepburn classic look. She had one she really wanted but every site we went to purchase it was sold out. Finally we found a suitable second… which was way less expensive, too.

She had the dress, curled the hair, invited friends to go with her and was ready for a night of fun with 100s of her closest middle school friends.

All smiles taking a picture with friends before Valentine Dance 2015.

All smiles taking a picture with friends before Valentine Dance 2015.

It was great to see her so excited to go and happy after the fact as well. It is bittersweet to watch her grow into this amazing young woman, so full of hope and expectations of what life will bring. I’d like it to slow down a little, but we all know that won’t be happening.

So I try to savor each moment. Take it in and cherish these times. I sometimes wonder if these times of reflection and savoring is what Jesus’ mother Mary was doing throughout His life that was momentarily captured in Luke 2:19 “But Mary treasured these things and pondered them in her heart.” I also wonder how much did she know in advance of the sacrifice that He made on the cross. I can’t imagine in moments of joy like this “Valentine Dance” could one experience the knowing of future loss at the same time. How blessed I am to experience the joy of seeing my daughter excited, expectant and gleeful without the knowing of future sadness.

Some may want to know what the future holds, I for one am thankful for the moments of joy that the present has brought. Moments of my not-so-little sweethearts life journey that bring a smile to her father’s and my face.

 

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