The Others Who Help Me Mother

 

Parenting in isolation is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do during this time. I have always relied on those around me to parent my children. And without the contact or intersection of other people’s lives with my children’s lives I have felt a huge burden that the parenting rests solely on me and my husband’s shoulders.
Over the past few weeks, while we have been in a stay at home status, I have been able to reflect on the many people who have impacted my children’s lives. The way that little pieces of advice or huge chunks of time given to me and/or my children had pivoted my children toward the people they are today.

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This began early on. Before I was even a parent of my own there was the impact of Jan Gohring. Jan was one of those people who was teaching me to parent before I even had the opportunity to parent my own. Her impact carried over into the very first months of life with my firstborn. I could go on and talk about my children’s preschool teachers and how they affirmed my own belief that my children were brilliant. But I’m not going to bother you with the details of their lives from birth until now but rather I want to pinpoint some specific people along the way.
Please know that every person in my children’s lives has had an impact and what they are becoming. Here, in this space, I’m choosing to is highlight some specific people, who without them, I would not be able to be the mother I am today.
No photo description available.Amy Ebert, you helped me navigate just as much as I helped you navigate being a teacher and mom at the same time. You also loved my children as fiercely as you love your own. That was so clear to me when you became my son‘s kindergarten teacher. Your zest for life and your loving manner passed directly to my son who is very intelligent, and that’s not just me saying it, I know you agree. You also saw that he was not necessarily the school loving type and set him on a positive path of learning.
It’s about my friend and colleague Lauri Ward, who when she saw me in tears and knew that I knew something was not right in regards to the way that Emmarie was grasping learning to read and took action. She took her skills as a diagnostician and her passionate love for me and my daughter and took Emmarie under her wing. She tutored her through some of the hardest parts of her first and second-grade years learning to read. At the same time encouraged me to keep seeking support for Emmarie.
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Then there is Rene Egle who saw Kristopher‘s natural inclination to code and tinker in robotics.
Lego Robotics.JPGInstead of having him repeat the same summer camp for K-2, summer to summer, she let him after second-grade jump up to the third through fifth-grade camp. Later that provided him an opportunity to be part of a robotics after school curricular activity that was designed for fourth and fifth graders. Thank you, Rene, you instilled in him the love of coding, robotics, and problem-solving which will most likely lead into his life career.
Courtney Clark, in just a short period of time we were together you loved Emmarie fiercely, help me parent in a world where we are still trying to figure out our place as females in this world. You showed her that you could love God, be a woman of God, and lead a congregation.
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Pamelynn and Mike Nennmann, you two have loved my children as if they were your own. Sometimes people have even mistaken my children as your own children. Pamelynn thank you for coming alongside me and helping me parent through the learning struggles Em had and show me through your own experiences how you struggled with the same challenges. I couldn’t have done it without you and I probably would have left her with more scars than I care to say.Image may contain: 6 people, including Avery Nennmann and Alyssa Biles, people standing
Michael thank you for loving Kristopher uniquely and in some ways taking him on as your own. The two of you share similarities and an intriguing way of thinking. The way that you and Kris think and love fiercely but quietly, how you just get one another is something I continue to respect and admire.
Kurt Glenn, such a short time we have known you, but what an impact. You quickly recognized we were way over our head as parents with Kristopher’s desire to build his own computer. You stepped in helped him making an impact we yet know the result. Helping him build his own computer, generously gifting him equipment that he needed so he could continue the project, I know he will forever look at you with awe and respect. While most people in IT are not seen as people with capes, you are a hero with a cape in our family.
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, text Laura Grimes, your arrival on the scene has been extremely recent, but your impact… there are no bounds on time with what you have done for Emmarie. In a short time, you have helped her rediscover herself again. I had felt like the Emmarie before moving to Arkansas had been lost in Texas. You have found her for us. Thank you for what you’re doing and what you will be doing to help her forge her path for her future.
There are so many others that are not mentioned here that have impacted my children in numerous ways. I know that Eric and I are forever grateful for those that have come into our children’s lives and honestly helped our job as parents be a little easier.
I want to encourage parents and mothers out there if you think you can do it alone, reconsider. Your children’s lives will be so much richer if others are invited in as partners and enhancers to the work you are already doing. If you are a soon to be parent/mother, I encourage you to be welcome in those around you who you see the value and wisdom they bring to the world around them and to you.
I have always used this filter after becoming a parent when it comes to those I hold closest in my life: “if you can’t love my children fiercely then your friendship is probably not going to be as deep with me as it could be. A friendship with me means being part of our family and loving my children. I also promise, in the same way you love my children fiercely, I will love your children fiercely, fur babies or walking on two legs. I promise you I will give the same care and respect to you and your children as you have given to mine.”
I know this, because I know without others, I could not be the mother I aspire to be.
Happy Mother’s Day, 2020.

Find Your Team, Lift Your Chin, & Look Up…

The last few weeks have been a disruption for us all. Some have called it “The Great Pause of 2020.” Others, there has been no pause, it has been a high-speed chase to do their jobs, continue to care for their families, now at home ALL OF THE TIME, and somehow process all that is happening. For the healthcare workers, the public safety personnel, the educators transitioning to remote learning, the parents doing their best to do school at home for the first time, the grocery workers, and on, and on, and on, there hasn’t been a pause. For those in situations of that high-speed chase, it seems more like “The Great Disruption of 2020.” I hear you, I see you, and I am you.

_There are two ways of spreading light_ to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it._ --Edith WhartonToday I was looking through the glass back door of my house into my back yard. I have three dogs and this door is used frequently by the entire family. To say the door was filthy would be an understatement (I am not overly type A about keeping the windows clean). I did scrounge up the window cleaner, grabbed the paper towel roll, and went to work. What I noticed as I cleaned is that the top of the glass pane had very little dirt. However, as I worked my way down to the bottom, the paper towel became filthy.

I started thinking about the conversations I have had with friends lately. The many posts I have read. The social media posts that have been reassuring to me. In every situation, those individuals that encouraged me, helped me to see through the confusion, and work through sadness or feeling lost, I was encouraged. They helped me to symbolically lift my chin.

There is much right now that if you are looking down or comparing our own truth to someone else’s can make you seem less than. You may feel like the bottom of the glass full of dirt that can not let the light in and causes you to become downcast. Even more so it can cause you to isolate and let our own worst thoughts pull you under. However, if we look up and look through the top of the glass free of dirt and clear to let the light in we can begin to see out, and see beyond to the beauty that God wants us to see.

DChitwood_ClearEyesFullHeartsCantLoseI do not make light that we still look down. We still become overwhelmed by our own “dirty bottom of the glass .” However, we have been given one another. Reach out to the team of your choosing and chant to one another “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!” God made us for fellowship so that we look up, look through the clear clean glass, and are filled with His light!

I also want to leave with this. You can have two opposite feelings within yourself. Recently a post was shared on a Teacher Group page that encouraged me. I was really struggling with can I have conflicting feelings about what is going on, can I have hope, while still feeling out of control? Can I feel like I am confident my work is doing great things for others while feeling my parenting and quality time with my children is lacking? What I decided is, YES. I am sharing the image from the post that was shared with my group in case there are others that it can help.IMG_0988.JPG

I am thankful for those in my team who have helped me lift my chin, look up through the clear glass and see the light. I hope that you have the same. If you don’t think you have a team, please reach out. If not to me through the comments, to someone in your circle of co-workers, relatives, or acquaintances. In this time most of us are acutely aware of how we need each other and are more than willing to support others.

Open letter to a New Friend…

screen shot 2019-01-30 at 12.18.35 pmMoving in any stage of life is a challenge. Once the basic needs are taken care of and you are able to locate the grocery store, a couple of restaurants, the nearest gas stations and have settled into a routine, the next need comes into play. The need for community and friends. When I was growing up and moved, you were thrown into a pool of peers, almost like forced socialization. When I moved as a newlywed we had the freedom with time and flexibility to meet other young couples. As we transitioned into the early stages of family and moved, again, that stage of life seemed to naturally create an opportunity for friends, motherhood is a time of desperation that brings you together with others struggling in similar life journeys. Early stages of parenthood gave way to connections when the kids entered elementary school and often crossed over into the nearby church we attended. So making friends, while sometimes daunting, in each situation had an obvious “entry point.”

This most recent move, however, has created a new set of difficulties in the realm of friendship. We have moved to an area of the country that is more static with people moving in and out, compared to where we were in Texas. In Texas, there was always a new person who had moved to town and we all had been that new person at one point or another. We welcomed them, just as we had been welcomed. Invited to lunch after church, asked to join other families for a get-together, or every person just made a point to continually greet one another and talk to one another when we ran into one another. Community happened with ease. In our new home in our new state, people have their “set” circle. Comically it reminds me of “Meet the Fockers” and the “Inner Circle of Trust.” To break that circle takes an inordinate amount of time, which brings me to my next challenge. The current reality of my children’s schedules. They are active, smart and involved. I do not plan to change that, however, that severely limits my ability to direct my focus to other things. Namely the time that it would take to “break” into a circle. So I write this letter:

Dear New Friend,

My family came here by unusual circumstances. We were not prepared to move here. We thought our children would graduate from the school district where they had started Kindergarten in Texas.

The decision to be where we are now was one that took an adjustment. We left a lot of things that we enjoyed. Great schools, great friends, awesome grocery stores, incredible restaurants, and a church home. One unusual tidbit, I grew up here in Arkansas, graduated from both high school and college in this state, my parents, sister, and family, and youngest brother and family live in the state, along with an aunt, uncle, and cousins. However, we have not found community here.

Our kids are adjusting, but we worry. We really hope they won’t hate us and they will find life-long friends here and keep the friends that they left behind.

We didn’t come here altogether. It was so hard for us to make our kids leave the only home they had ever known that we tried for me to stay with the kids in Texas while my husband worked in Arkansas. We made the choice to become a two household-still marriage intact family (despite all the rumors of divorce that surfaced). We worked hard to make it work. It kind of did. However, the it kind of didn’t was what brought us together in our current residence as a family after a year apart. My kids still wish we had tried harder to keep up the two households.

Don’t get me wrong. Our kids are great. They have adjusted and made the best of things. They excel in their academics and extra-curricular activities. However, they aren’t making those deep friend connections I would hope they would have by now to the extent I had hoped, and I can’t help thinking that is because I am not making friends either.

I had great friends in Texas. I also have a few great friends from the places I moved before Texas. I think if you met them, they would tell you I am a good friend. Serious, but funny. Will love your kids like I love my own. Loyal like a labrador. Love my husband. Struggle with some of my childhood experiences. Love my immediate family fiercely. Probably brag too much about my amazing kids… see there?

I want to have great friendships here too. However, there seems to be a lockdown on getting into the friendship circles here that is like Fort Knox, and I don’t have the time or the will to figure out the combination.screen shot 2019-01-30 at 2.57.09 pm

I am going to lay it bare here in this letter. My hope is that someone will read it and like it. Maybe you will give things a shot or when you do read, even if you don’t live close to me, you will give that new girl at work, at your kids basketball game or at church a little more of a smile, offer her an invite to coffee, or just chat her up a bit and take the edge off of her attempt at making friends. Trust me, I have put on a brave face, attempted to insert myself into a “set” circle and been “ghosted.” (By the way, I didn’t realize at forty-six adult women can make you feel like a teenage loser like in high school!)

Back to a little about me. I hate to exercise but try to because I know it is best. I love to read but with my schedule, I have become an avid audiobook-phile. I like to craft but rarely do because of time. Not huge into cooking although I am not bad at it. Like to bake, but only from about October 1st to the end of February.  I also love dark beers, a glass of most kinds of wine, a good gin and tonic, or a cranberry vodka. I am a huge college football fan but not so much an NFL fan. My favorite outfit is yoga pants, a soft t-shirt, and bare feet, however, most of the time you will see me dressed semi-casually in typical 40-something appropriate outfits with my TOMs wedges, wishing I was in my yoga pants, t-shirt and bare feet. I have two dogs, two cats, and a pet snake. I have a gift of learning a little bit about someone and determining based on that information what wine they like or would like… I have been given the name of #winefairy, and I carry that honor with pride. I love the idea of going to social events, trying new restaurants and experiencing community, but when push comes to shove, I am a homebody at heart.screen shot 2019-01-30 at 2.57.39 pm

Church has been a constant throughout my life, but the real relationship between me and Jesus has been more real in the past twenty years of my life than it was from age 0-26. If you were to try to put who I am on a t-shirt it would say “I love Jesus, I cuss a little, drink a little more, and love hard.”

In addition to all this, I am a public educator and am passionate about excellence in PUBLIC education. Other than Jesus, I believe education is the key to transforming lives. I am passionate about this part of my life, too.

So here it is. Take it or leave it, but this is who I am and I think it is pretty o.k. I am not sure why making friends has been more difficult this time. It hasn’t been for lack of attempts on my part.

If you have read this far, thank you. I hope as you read this it encourages you to be open,IMG_1668 reach out to the “new people” in your path and invite them into your “circle.” This may not improve my current friend situation, but it makes me hopeful. After all, I am a good friend material who wouldn’t want to be my friend!

Sincerely,

Kirsten

 

 

Audiobooks, Mom Taxi and Learning to Begin Again

Friend QuoteMoving sucks. It’s not just the packing of boxes, unpacking of boxes, painting, re-painting, registering kids in new schools, learning the ins and outs of a new community, school, work culture that sucks. It’s that no matter how much your kiddos are seeming to adjust, and you are getting along; in the middle of it all… YOU MISS YOUR PEOPLE!

I now spend an average of two hours chauffering kids to events and such each day. This increased time as a MOM TAXI has pushed me into the world of Audiobooks. I first listened to “Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker. I learned really quickly this is not the best book to read AFTER you have moved twice in one year AND started a new job while starting kids in a new school. I was not in the right spirit to receive its message. I did take some of the intent from it, and at some point, I plan to revisit.  Even though the message is not for me RIGHT NOW, I did discover the efficiency and convenience that audiobooks provided.

I took a break from the blog/female Christian author genre and listened to a work-related book “4 Disciplines of Execution” by McChesney, Hulen, and S. Covey. You can read more about that in my professional blog post titled “Whirlwind and the WIG,” if you would like.

 

I revisited the blog/female Christian author genre, again, this time a bit more carefully. I chose “Uninvited: Living Loved When You Fell Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely” by Lisa TerKeurst. Holy, moly. Talk about getting down to the heart of the matter. I am undone by this book and feeling freer than I ever have and at the same time feeling raw, so raw. It is times like this, I miss my people. I need to share the rawness, the part of me that has become undone and vulnerable.

May 20, 201854 THOUGHT-PROVOKING QUOTES FROM PRESENT OVER PERFECT BY SHAUNA NIEQUISTEver working woman should read Present over Perfect.Here are the quotes i like_“Stop. Right now. RemAfter that, I jumped into “Present over Perfect: Leaving Behind Franctic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living” by Shauna Niequist and let me tell you, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

This move has sucked. I am missing my people, but “reading” these last two books, I have realized this dish of misery called “moving” is secretly and a dish of “do-over.”

I am getting a do-over. It doesn’t take away that I miss my people and my kids do too. I watched tears stream down my daughter’s face last night as we discussed the sixteenth birthday coming up in December that isn’t anything that we thought it would be, nor would it be in the place we once called home. I know it will be ok. Between the Mom Taxi, the audiobooks, and learning to begin again… we will find the birthday celebration event of the century.

 

In the meantime, I will hold tight to the things that matter. I will live loved and in the present. And yes, if you are meeting me for the first time, you may see a tear in my eye and hear a rawness in my voice. For this move has left me bare, stripped of my people and working hard to begin again. Only this time I begin a little better than before and leaning hard on a Savior that loves me.

His plans are bigger than your dreams…

I have been waiting. Wanting to have the perfect post about our transition. That waiting… it made me malcontent. Instead of focusing on the moment(s) and relishing those little ways God was revealing he had my back, I was focusing on the “dream.”

The “dream” for me, for my kids, for my husband and for our family.

Back up to a time before all this crazy transitioning.

I was reading the book, 100 Days to Brave by Annie Downs. I had started reading when I was feeling less than who I felt God had purposed me to be. I started it as a way to find my way back to what I knew myself to be, in God’s eyes.

When the flurry of moving, transitioning from two households back to one household were taking place and everything seemed to be falling into place, I put the book to the side in late April.

Fast forward to late July. I am about three weeks into my new position in Arkansas that I am over the moon about. I am living in a house I never dreamed I would live in. I have just traded the “soccer mom vehicle” for a sporty little car that makes me feel like I am in college again. I am celebrating 24 years of marriage to the best guy in the world. I should be on top of the world.

But I am not. I am worried about my kids. We went from so many opportunities and experiences at their fingertips in Texas to a situation that I fret might limit them. I start to worry, try to control every connection, and orchestrate every move. I become the “helicopter mom” that engineers EVERYTHING.

Image-1It is ugly. My kids in every public setting with others give me a wary look when I start “my thing.” I don’t like myself, they don’t say it, but they don’t like me either.

I really didn’t even notice how bad I had become. I was operating from a place of fear not in a place of assurance and bravery that God has us all in the palm of his hand.

We started school. August 13th, and like we always do we cheat and take our “Back toSchool” pictures the day before.I even went to the local college where EmBug is taking concurrent credit (college and high school credit at the same time) for a class and took a picture.IMG_0747 So I can post on social media subtly “my kid is in college!” I think she met her limit (see the picture… if you know her that is “the look.”) I know, shameful!

I did do something right in all this engineering of my kiddos future. We started praying every morning before they left for school. We did this the year before the family was living in two separate places. I honestly started it to, in my “wise” mind, to settle their nerves and subtly remind THEM, God is in control. I know, you can say it, what a hypocrite!

I think those prayers, however, were slowly pulling at my own heart. So I picked up the book, “100 Days to Brave” again. The first night I started reading again, I posted on Instagram (See image). IMG_0745I was still in a state of worry, but the conviction to back off on my engineering was received and acknowledged.

The next day after work when I was looking at the posts from friends, one of my dearest friends that walked me through the earliest parts of motherhood, replied to my post, “Oh KIWI, NOBODY loves your kids more than God does! Hard to remember, but keep trying! And… fear is imagining the future as if God is not in it.” If I didn’t know better I would have thought that God was speaking directly to me. Maybe he was, through my dear and wise friend.

Tonight as I write this post, bearing a little bit of the reality, and knowing I have no idea what the future holds for my kids, I am at peace. That doesn’t mean I haven’t emailed a few teachers in haste since this revelation… I am a work in progress. However, God’s plans are bigger than my dreams. Dreams for myself. Dreams for my kids. Dreams for my husband. Dreams for this family.

Honestly, life is good. I am so grateful for life right now. Sitting on the back deck kicking back, drinking a beverage with my husband and listening to voices of my children as they chat back and forth about their day in the kitchen on the other side of the brick wall affixed to the deck.

We are embracing our new life and, with God in control, it is beautiful.

 

 

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

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!

Running the Race of Life…

Family Vacation to Gulf Shores June 2012

Family Vacation to Gulf Shores June 2012

I have hesitated for some time to write a post on running. Exercise for me is a necessary evil. If I could invent a way to get the benefits of exercise without actually doing the exercise… I would be happy, and rich. Lots of things come easy for me in the academic world, nothing comes easy for me in the physical activity world. I am awkward at best. Now that I have been running consistently for over two years, I think I am safe to tell my story. It looks like this may be a thing I stick with for a while.

In late June 2012 I was sitting on a beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama. I had been on a journey to reach a certain goal weight for this trip, and for reasons I won’t elaborate on, I had missed that goal by a long shot!. Beyond trying to reach the goal for the trip, I had also wanted to reach this goal before my 40th birthday which was fast approaching. August 4th to be exact. Sitting on the beach I pulled out my weight loss app of choice and plugged in my goal and the time line. OUCH… there was no way it would happen… at least not the amount I wanted to lose in the time frame given. Especially if I was going to be healthy, not starve myself and be a good example of how to be healthy to my very impressionable nine and half year old daughter.

I was not happy… I was sliding into 40 over my desired weight and nothing to show on how I was fighting getting older with ferociousness. So, as I often do, I backed out of the weight loss app and proceeded to lose myself in the Facebook posts of the 100s of people I am “friends.” All while the little voice in my head kept whispering… “There has got to be something you can do. You can’t just give up.”  I had given myself the conciliatory resolution that I would still lose the weight, I just wouldn’t do it by my birthday. However, that didn’t seem to quiet the whisper.

Buddy Run PosterAnd then I saw it… “Buddy Run 5K.” A fundraiser for a runner’s family. Buddy Hopkins in the spring of this year, in my community, had been hit and killed while out doing a training run for a marathon. This 5K was in my community, helping a precious family and, wait for it, was scheduled for my 40th birthday.

So on that beach I made a decision, set a goal and most importantly contacted a friend to tell them what I planned to do. I was going to use the next five weeks to train myself to run a 5K. I was going to run and complete a 5K on my 40th birthday. To make sure I did, I signed up for the Buddy Run on that beach, called my friend Sherri Daniel to ask her to run it with me, and found a Couch to 5K app to keep me on pace.

I ran that race and since then over a dozen other 5Ks, some 10Ks a few 15Ks, 4 half marathons and 1 marathon.

At the Buddy Run 5K finish line with my running partner. This is the first of many races we would run together.

At the Buddy Run 5K finish line with my running partner. This is the first of many races we would run together.

I have learned that running is not easy for me. Although I run without stopping for many miles at a time, the first mile for me is as hard as the last mile. I do not get a runners high and lately my body has acclimated to the running where I no longer get the caloric burn benefit of running. But I keep doing it…

Why? Well, it reminds me of how something you can do over and over can continue to be a challenge. It helps keep me mindful of students where school and learning (in the traditional sense) is a challenge every day  and never gets easier. It also has shown me what a community that has all levels of skill can be like. The running community is very encouraging. From the fastest record breaking runner to the slowest wogger (walking/jogging) we all celebrate one another and our quest to finish the race set before us. It has been where I have formed some of my strongest friendships (you do actually talk a lot while running). It has given me the opportunity to connect with others through the IRun4 organization where I get to dedicate my runs to my buddy Abby whose physical limitations do not allow her to run. It has opened my eyes to see things in new ways… and frankly I like the fresher perspective.

A quick selfie with my two running buddies Traci Bear and Sherri Daniel at the Cowtown Half Marathon 2015. First race we have run right after an ice storm!

A quick selfie with my two running buddies Traci Bear and Sherri Daniel at the Cowtown Half Marathon 2015. First race we have run right after an ice storm!

What plans do I have next? Well I am not 100% but I would like to branch out beyond my community for races. I have learned that I prefer locally run races over nationally sponsored races. I also like races that benefit local non-profit programs and organizations. It is nice to bring benefit to something while doing something good for yourself at the same time.

If you run or have runs in your area… do you have one you recommend? Please share and if you have a link share that too.

20 Years and Counting…

FullSizeRender (2)Eric and  I celebrated our 20th anniversary back in July.  We have moved to 4 different towns during that time. Had 7 different addresses, and become parents. All that moving around and child rearing can result in some friendships becoming more distant, and even lose complete contact with wonderful people.

However, there are just some people you can’t lose… no matter the how much you move around. As luck would have it, they sometimes move in the same places. The Johnson’s are those people.

FullSizeRender (4)Eric and I met Bruce and Janice the summer we were engaged to be married in Ozark, Arkansas (our first community to reside in as a married couple). Once married we attended several events at their home. Janice taught me the finer art of garage sale-ing and showed me how to “Design on a Dime” before HGTV ever thought of it as a concept for a television show. To top it all off, my first year of teaching, I taught Janice’s oldest son Cody. Our lives were intricately woven.

Fast forward five years, Eric was transferred to Waco by his employer. We loved the little town of Ozark and the people we had met. However, we were headed to a new life in a new town. We figured our interactions would be few if any with the Johnson’s and the rest of our Ozark friends.

Fast forward six years, we left Waco (with one child and another on the way) and headed to a new opportunity in Dallas/Fort Worth. Three years after that I returned to teaching at Haslet Elementary in Northwest ISD. A year later I discovered Facebook. Through a former friend still in Ozark via Facebook we learned that Janice and Bruce were living in the very town I taught in, Haslet!

FullSizeRender_4Quickly we reconnected. We have been going to most of their New Year’s Parties and other social events since then. This year was no different… except now our children have come to expect this celebratory tradition.

FullSizeRender (3)Some paths only cross for a little while, others weave back and forth and by creative design are intricately woven. That is the path that has formed between the Johnson’s and the Wilson’s.

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What paths in your life have crossed the paths of others and become a part of your intricately woven life journey?

Ice Skating and The Stockyards

Only in Fort Worth, Texas can you take your kids to ice skate and see a cattle drive all in the same day.

On the Monday before Christmas with our good friends the Bear’s, we ventured out to ice skate at the Outdoor Panther Ice Rink (yes the high temperature was in the mid-50s) and then watch the Cattle Drive in the Stockyards. We also enjoyed a delicious lunch at the one and only Joe T. Garcia’s followed by the kids trying out the life sized maze off of Exchange Avenue near the stockyards and made famous by the “Amazing Race.”

Here is a few snapshots that was compiled into a flipagram for viewing pleasure.

Look for more updates from the holiday break to be posted soon…

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