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.

 

Caroling and Candy Cane Bombing

This fall I became a life-group leader for 6th grade girls via our Church Youth Group… known by students as Fellowship of the Parks (FOTP) “Inception.”

inception

Every Wednesday after a time of worship and a message from the youth ministry team, I get to sit down and learn more about this amazing group of 6th grade young ladies. They are enthusiastic, energetic, generous, kind, considerate, compassionate, silly, goofy, dynamic and unique. At the beginning of December I challenged them to do random acts of kindness throughout the month.

RAK calendar (I used the calendar here that was shared with me on Facebook from the blog site coffeeandcrayons.com)

Every time we met they had wonderful stories of how they gave to others and their joy in giving was contagious. One of the ideas we considered as a random act of kindness was candy cane bombing. This typically is where you go to a parking lot outside of a grocery store or large warehouse retail store (i.e. Wal-Mart) and place candy canes on every windshield. While the idea itself is fun, as the adult in the conversation, I was concerned about the safety of all my girls that would participate.

To appease the eagerness to do the candy cane bombing, we came to a reasonable alternative. We would carol and candy cane bomb at the same time.

IMG_6853So in celebration of the Savior’s birth and to provide an opportunity for these girls to come together socially outside of the normal weekly “Inception” meetings, I hosted a Christmas party. We grilled hamburgers, ate cake pops and then grabbed packets of carol lyrics and candy canes. This new twist on candy cane bombing was to go to every door in the general area of our home, knock and then begin caroling. If a door opened continue the song to an appropriate stopping point then gift the audience with candy canes. If no door opened finish the carol and leave a candy cane on the door knob.

The event was a success and the young ladies loved it as much as the neighbors.

IMG_6999[1]IMG_7003[1]IMG_7006[1]Who knew what started off as a conversation about random acts of kindness would turn into an event that was so much fun that the girls asked as they left if this would become an annual Christmas event. Of course I am only too happy to continue this event, candy canes included. It not only revives the tradition of caroling that many have long forgotten, but allows me to relive my own childhood memories of caroling under the guise of providing “adult supervision.”

IMG_7225[1]

What holiday activities from your childhood would you like to see re-emerge?

“You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!”

FullSizeRender[1]By the time the last day of school before the holiday break starts most of us are ready.  Some of us are so haggard with events and parties we may even exclaim “I just want to poke my eyes out!” But God gave me a Christmas Baby, and he gave me the energy, stamina and creativity, I believe, to do both the holiday activities and Embug’s birthday with equal energy and excitement.

Lucky for me, Embug loves all things Christmas and I have given extra effort to keeping her birthday special in the mix of all the holiday hullabaloo. Even though I do everything to separate the events of Christmas and her birthday, it has become a natural process to integrate the themes of the season into her birthday.  This year was no exception.

This year my biggest challenge was not to keep it special for Embug… but to make it “cool” for my blossoming Tween. We’ve tried small intimate birthday celebrations and big “on site” birthday events. Either have had their set of challenges. Most of our difficulties lie in scheduling a time when there weren’t conflicts with everyone getting to her party due to parentals having holiday events of their own.

To try to plan for the least amount of conflict we planned for the evening on the last day of school. Most parentals have had their company or neighborhood parties and kids events are over. Now we just run into those that may be headed out of town for family holiday events or vacation.

The second challenge, which is a new one for us this year, is making it appealing for both boys and girls. This is where the collaboration between myself and Embug came into play. One of Embug’s favorite movies is “A Christmas Story.” Over the course of several discussions with her friends she discovered that this was not a well-watched Christmas movie by her peers. After she got over the initial indignation of the lack of Christmas culture, an idea arose. Embug and I devised a plan to have “A Christmas Story” Themed Birthday party.

Christmas Story Invite frontChristmas Story Invite BackThis party involved PJs (footie PJs preferred), BB Gun target practice with a Red Rider BB gun, fried rice and egg rolls in honor of the Chinese Restaurant where Ralphie’s family was relegated to after the Bumpus’ hounds destroyed the Christmas turkey, and a viewing of the Cult-Acclaimed “A Christmas Story.” What tween boy or girl would not enjoy this event?

 

 

The evening arrived and there was an excited buzz in our home.  The fried rice and egg rolls were a FullSizeRender[1]surprising hit and the party guests couldn’t get enough of the BB gun target practice. While some didn’t have quite the artistic appreciation for the movie, Embug was content in knowing she had passed on yet another nugget of Christmas culture to her friends.

Embugs Birthday 2014FullSizeRender[1]

 

 

 

 

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While we didn’t have cake. Cake pops were all the rage with flavors of lemon, red velvet, vanilla and FullSizeRender_2[1]chocolate done in thFullSizeRender_4[1]e shapes of the “Frah-gee-lay” box, Target with the words “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!”, lampshade from the “Leg Lamp Award”, and Ralphie “Bunny PJs” head.

FullSizeRender_3[1]FullSizeRender_1[1]

It was a success all the way through. I have the evidence to prove it, as over and over again Embug thanked me for a great party.

FullSizeRender_4[1] FullSizeRender_3[1] FullSizeRender_2[1]

I only have about 6 more years of birthday parties that I will be able to plan for her before she’s out on her own, and I realize that the next 6 years will probably be some of the most challenging parties to plan, but I am going to enjoy the success of this one.

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However, any and all suggestions for future parties are welcome!

Christmas Orchestra Concert and Talent Show

This time of year seems to be heavy on Embug events. (Lucky for us Kritterman is content with his basketball and Legos.)

christmas orchestra pit 2014

Embug participated in her first Christmas Orchestra Concert. There was huge improvement with the 6th grade orchestras as a whole since their fall performance just 7 weeks earlier. They played a series of ten 30 to 60 second arrangements.

Christmas Orchestra Concert Program

I captured them on video but that will stay in the family archives, as I believe only a parent can appreciate the performance. It was also difficult to capture a shot of her with her bass, as we all know the bass section is always at the back of the orchestra pit. Of course we are proud of our amazing FIRST Chair Bass Player (Yes! First chair!).

Christmas Orchestra concert ImageThe same week as the Christmas Orchestra Concert was the Wilson Middle School Talent Show. Unlike in previous years there were tryouts where not everybody made it. We were very honored when Embug was one of the sixth graders selected.

She was in charge of this project from beginning to end. She selected her song and accompaniment soundtrack… “We Need a Little Christmas,” planned and rehearsed her own choreography, and chose her “flashy” Christmas sweater and metallic leggings (that look flesh colored in the video).

She had two performances on the last day before the holiday break that resulted in her singing in front of the entire student body by the end of the day.  I took her brother out of school for the first performance mid-morning so we could watch her, then returned him to school for his Christmas party.  Eric came for the afternoon performance.

Here is a less than professional recording job, compliments of my iPhone.

Unfortunately, the video also does a poor job of capturing her facial expressions as she sang, which made the song all the more entertaining.

Practically speaking, I should not go and buy expensive recording equipment or cameras to capture all these events, but part of me wonders if I should. Either way, the moment has been captured and this is just enough for me, Eric and Kritterman to remember how it was in person. Pure joy!

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