/> Raising Angels: May 2011

Monday, May 30, 2011

Just So You Don't Miss Anything

It's been so busy that I've started a few posts and nearly fell asleep at the computer trying to recored all the memories. I'm keeping them where they started so that they appear on the right days that they happen. However I'll try to let you know so that you can go back and find them. That is, if and when I finish them.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Last Day

Today was a good day. It started in the wee hours as I finished up my grading and searched through numerous concordances to find the perfect Bible verses to go on the certificates for my students.
I did sleep...briefly. I got up and finished wrapping the teacher gifts and took a few photos of the kids before heading to the last assembly of the school. Instead of sitting among the crowds of parents, I sat in the bleachers with my class.
It's a different perspective in those bleachers and that's where it all hit. I looked over at Mackenzie sitting with the elementary students for the last time. I saw Aiden, halfway through his elementary career. And down below was Dawson, finishing up the last of his half days. In the crowd I spotted Maximilian, a mere two years away from joining them. Suddenly I was not only wiping off the sweat (our school is not air-conditioned), but wiping back the tears.
I managed to make it through all of my kids’ honors awards as well as the honoring of my fourth-graders without any total melt-downs. Even though I don't teach in the mornings, Max and I hung out with the fourth-graders to help pack up the classroom. It was totally cute the way they included him in the work and the fun. He thought he was a regular big kid.
When the bell rang we all screamed with joy together and I was ever so grateful to be there right at that moment. My mom, as is her way, slipped me some money to take the kids to lunch to celebrate their achievements. It was pouring down rain so we drove all the way across town to hit a McDonalds with an indoor playground.

We ate our food slowly as we talked about their year and I reminded them how blessed they are to go to a school where their teachers honor them individually for a virtue they see in them. We took our time. They made friends on the playground and I told them to play as long as they wanted.

When we got back home, the boys asked if they could play Wii and if I would play with them. Certificates were strewn across the counters, book bags were scattered on the floor, and shoes were dropped in a trail to the TV. For once I let it all go. I sat with the kids and lost every single race of Mario Kart. We had so much fun.

When Nelson got home it was time for the big event - ear piercing. When Mackenzie asked us about getting this done several years ago, Nelson and I decided it would be a nice rite of passage into middle school. She's asked many times since then...every time someone else in her class got them done. Turns out she was the only one left and we were just fine with that.

With all that waiting there was no way we were getting away with doing it any day other than today. The boys were mesmerized by the whole process and wondered how we would celebrate their passage into middle school. "It will NOT be with piercing of any kind," Nelson quickly inserted.
Mackenzie did great and claimed no pain at all. By using some coupons we fed the family for a mere $7.63 at Chick-Fil-A. When we walked past the Cookie Company, we found a former sitter working and she handed the kids free cookies. Does it get any better?

We finished the day by snuggling together to watch the finale of American Idol (I told you we were behind). And me, well, I went to bed with the mess right where it was. It was a totally indulgent day after a really hard year. And I'm hoping, there will be a lot more of these days to follow.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The End is Near

Oh my gosh, the year is ending tomorrow and there are so many things to say. I made it (save report cards, awards certificates, cleaning the classroom and teacher planning days) through a year of teaching elementary school kids and then coming home to a house full of my own. My baby (and only) girl is finishing elementary school and heading to...GULP...middle school. My Kindergartener will be at school all day next year. And I, well, I won't be teaching at the school and although that will be a huge burden lifted, I will really, really miss it(in my mind as I remember the good things, not in a practical, I need to teach more kind of way:)).

For better or for worse, time marches on.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's Funny

It's funny how things work out. It's funny that sometimes God answers prayers you forgot you prayed. God, I know, has a terrific sense of humor.

There were lots of times this year that I missed doing things with my kids because I was teaching. I missed my Kindergartener coming home every day and I missed doing his homework with him. I missed going on field trips and helping out in the class.

Of course I also gained seeing them in their school environment, watching them at recess and eating an occasional lunch with them. I see them at the end of the school day when it's all still fresh and they still want to talk about it.

So last week, the week before school ended, the permission slips poured in. One had a pool party, one was going to Monkey Joe's, and the other had a manners luncheon...and all of them wanted me to come. Now even though I normally love to volunteer for the end of the year parties, there was no way I could do it this year. The last week of school is not a good time to call in a substitute.

Aiden had the hardest time with my decision. "You haven't come on any field trips. Everyone's mom has been on one but you." I've been around the block enough that I didn't buy into that, but I did think it was sweet that he wanted me to go so bad.

"Okay," I said in a compromise, "how about I'll offer to drive you and your classmates to the pool?" I figured this might make him feel better while also allowing me some time to do my grades.

"Sure," he said with a sigh, knowing it wasn't what he wanted but it was better than nothing.

The day before the party the teacher called me in a slight panic. "Any chance you can stay to chaperone until you have to go back to school? I usually have more parents than I need but this year I have no volunteers."

After a phone call to a dear friend who offered to watch Max (I didn't have the heart to ask my mom who already does so much for us), I was set to go and had one very ecstatic son.
The day of the party the look on his face as I walked into the classroom made the tiny sacrifice totally worthwhile. I didn’t have time to be there but I wanted to be and God had given me the perfect excuse to do it.
Of course when I got home that day and Dawson found out what had happened, I got the inevitable, “How come you went with Aiden, and you can’t come with me?”

I was prepared for this and had talked to his teacher ahead of time. “Why don’t you just drop by?” she suggested. “Bring Max with you. We’d love to have him!”
The next day Max and I joined the Kindergarteners at Monkey Joe’s. Dawson’s classmates were thrilled to have Max and included him in everything. We even had time to join them for lunch at McDonald’s afterwards. Again, it was another beautiful memory made in time I didn’t think I had.
And, now as the year winds down, I find myself wondering how in the world I ended up with so much school stuff to do in the last minute. I’ve been up late scoring tests and averaging grades.
Then I remembered that I had spent my precious free hours with my boys instead of my books. And in the end I’ve decided that God gave me the opportunity to make the better decision and I’m so very glad He did.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

O Solo What?

Tonight we were watching an Italian trio sing "O Solo Mio" on TV (okay, yes, it was American Idol and yes, I'm a huge fan and yes, it was last week's show...so I'm a little behind). We were admiring their vocal abilities when Dawson leaned over and said, "I didn't understand a word they said!"

Max responded by answering, "Well if I was on this show I would sing 'Who Let the Dogs Out'. Everyone would love that song."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Deep Thoughts

Some days you want to say everything but you can't say anything because you're bone tired and you try to fight it but you're so tired you just can't and then you remember it's the last week of school and it was upwards of 100 degrees today and you think - well, that explains a lot and you just give in and go to bed.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Damsel in Distress

I just came in from a backyard play that only I was invited to watch. I sat on the swing as four boys and one girl performed some kind of ninja/princess adventure.

In the heat of the action as the four costumed ninjas began their swordfight, the little lady cleared her throat, put her hand on her hip and said, "Hey wait a minute guys! Did somebody forget to rescue me?"

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Just What I Needed

We have been dealing with some tough parenting issues lately. Interestingly, each child has separate issues. One has developed a definite opinion about everything, another is lashing out, someone is having difficulty telling the truth, and the other is getting a little brazen. In short, I've been reminded in no small terms that parenting is really hard work.

Yesterday, as I was getting the kids ready for school and Max ready for his three-year check up, Dawson came in the bathroom covered in a rash and itching like crazy. Suddenly, I was taking two kids to the doctor instead of one. In a weird series of events, both boys ended up needing shots (after I assured Dawson he would not be getting one).

After the dreaded shots during which the boys showed amazing bravery, the nurse turned to me and said, "You don't know how refreshing it is to see such good kids in this office. You really wouldn't believe the kind of behavior we see in here."

It always amazes me that when you need encouragement the most, God sends it in the most unusual way. When you feel like all your hard work is doing no good, God finds a way to say, "Keep it up!"

Yesterday, I got just what I needed to dig in and hold the line.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Who Let the Dogs Out?

I'm not sure how, but Max has learned a new song, or rather a part of a song, and he sings it...constantly. I noticed this the other day when I took him along for a run and he sang this nonstop for over a mile. I would have been a bit irritated by this length of repetition at home but listening to him sing it on a run is so much easier than huffing and puffing my way through a constant conversation with him as I run up the hills around here.

When something is this consistent for a long period of time I find it worthy of recording. I'm thinking this might come in handy as blackmail later down the road. Besides, it's fun to see how far he's come since this.

Just for the record, I did not coordinate the bib with the song. However, it definitely adds to the cuteness!

Friday, May 13, 2011

National Half Marathon Race Review

I know I already told you about this, but I didn't get to say much about it. Seems I get kind of busy sometimes.

I was thinking about that race during my run this morning. Mostly I was thinking how this 5 miles I was running was my longest run since that race. What can I say? It takes me awhile to recover and get back out there again after being in so much pain. I have been running but it was with the kids training for a 5K...not much running to say the least.

But I digress - I was feeling pretty good when I got back in this morning. Training these past two weeks has been a bit more intense and it's encouraging. When I walked in, Nelson asked me if I had seen my "cute" little postcard. Interestingly, it was a postcard from the company that took pictures at the race and it had my picture plastered all over it. Not my best shots, mind you, but a cool marketing technique.(This, by the way, is not one of them.)

This race was my favorite one so far. First of all, it's the first race I've ever run with someone for the entire race. The fact that my someone just happened to be my baby brother only made it that much better. For some reason though, the photographers managed to crop him out of most of my photos.I, however, got him in a few of mine.

Secondly, it was my first destination race and I love D.C.! We got to stay with some dear friends who went above and beyond to make sure we had a great time. Running through such a historical part of the country was inspiring. I do have to admit though, seeing D.C. after the race was a bit challenging. Sounds kind of funny, but it's not so easy to walk around a city after you've run 13.1 miles.

And, last but not least, no matter how slow I ran, or how much my stinking IT band hurt, or how many times I had to stop and stretch, it was March and I finished a half marathon. In my brief stint as a "runner" my training has consisted of joining the running group mid-May and running with them until the race in late October. After that I pretty much did no running at all until the next training season. This is the first time I've run through the winter and that was victory enough for me!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Oh, How I Love This Kid

As I'm picking Max up out of his booster seat tonight he leans into me and says, "I smell you Mama. You are so pretty." Then he plants a big kiss on my cheek.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Meals for Mama

Today started bright and early as I woke Mackenzie so she could get ready for her 6:45 AM departure for a field trip to the beach. It's a traditional marine biology field trip taken along with the high school juniors. She was super excited and as I drove away I still felt a tad nervous about sending her off on a bus for an all day field trip. I wonder when this feeling goes away. Actually I'm wondering if this is a part of motherhood in general and will never go away.

I was up so early that I got home, fed the boys and headed out for a quick run. I got in a whole Rosary before the run was over and still had time for a little bit of prayer. The weather was cool and the run actually felt good.

Next, I got the two big boys to school and prepared to join Max at school for the annual Muffins for Mom event. Max was beside himself with excitement. He couldn't wait to get there and kept reminding me, "You're coming with ME today!"

On the drive there I remembered this, this, this, and this. Suddenly, I was once again aware of how fast it all changes. How do I only have one boy in preschool? How do I have three kids in elementary school? How have I survived so far? It goes by fast, so, so fast.

I made it home in time to put away the laundry and head off to school to eat lunch with my other two boys. In years passed these activities, although fun, have left me with the feeling that they infringed on my last days of the few hours a week I had to myself. Today, I knew what to expect so I didn't plan anything else other than to be with my boys. Today it was really, really good.

Today I am so very grateful to be Mama to such great kids. Today I relished the sweetness of each of these stages, the beauty of every handmade gift, the preciousness of time spent together.

In the midst of all this sweetness are also moments of pure frustration and out and out belly laughing. One such moment can be seen in the photo below. I'll leave you with this (toilet training, check: redressing, still in need of a little help).

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Sweet Success

There's so much to say about this photo but for now I just want to relish in the moment. He's running!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Historical Mysteries

Me: Mackenzie, do you remember studying about the Louisiana Purchase?

Mackenzie: Yes.

Me: What country did we buy it from in what year and who was president?

Mackenzie: Well, Jefferson was the president and we bought it from France but I don't remember what year.

Me: That's pretty impressive. We bought it in 1803.

Aiden: So, when we bought it from France, how exactly did we get it here?

Monday, May 02, 2011

O Sacrament Most Holy

Yesterday, on top of it being Nelson's birthday and the beatification of Pope John Paul II and Divine Mercy Sunday and the demise of Osama bin Laden, Aiden made his First Communion. This isn't the way a post about this most important event should begin, but it is a reflection of life and how suddenly, over the past few months I have felt incredibly guilty about not putting First Communion at the top of every list this year.
But, as all mothers of multiple children know, this is the way life is. For better or for worse, some things don't get the time they need (or at least the time we feel they need). So for the past two or three months, this is where I have found myself - feeling guilty about not putting the same amount of focus into Aiden's First Communion as I did Mackenzie's.
This past week, however, the week leading up to this beautiful sacrament, God showed me a thing or two that proved me absolutely wrong. When I really started to consider why I felt I poured so much time into Mackenzie's, what I realized was that most of that extra time revolved around what she would wear on that day. I bought her dress a whole seven months before the big day. My mom took her out on a special date to buy her veil. In the month before there were shoes to be purchased and lacy socks to find.

On the other hand, Aiden's outfit was mandated by the church: white shirt, dark pants and dark tie. The day I got that note, I opened up his closet – white shirt, check – dark pants, check. I needed only the dark tie which just happened to come in a bag of hand-me-downs someone gave me the week before First Communion, double check. Without all the pomp and circumstance surrounding shopping for the perfect outfit, I felt as if somehow I had cheated the poor little guy.

He has however, been in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd all year, on top of the required parish religious education class. We have been talking about the big day quite a lot. Even with all of this, I still felt that urgency that somehow this one was going to slip through my fingers. That I had in someway failed to prepare him the way I should.

It actually wasn’t until Sunday morning, as I was ironing his outfit and Nelson was doing his very best to spiff up the shoes he’s been wearing to school all year, that I realized perhaps my lack of preparation was more about the exterior than the interior.

He got dressed and looked so angelic that I almost cried. The simplicity of the outfit was beautiful. The mandated uniformity put the focus elsewhere - like his nails which, after two showers, were still green from a painting project at school on Friday. I filled the sink with warm, soapy water and forced him to soak his hands for ten minutes while trying to convince the kid that women pay lots of money to have treatments like this. He, of course, was highly doubtful.

When he continued to wonder what the big deal was about the green nails, I informed him that those hands were going to be holding the body of Christ in a few hours and we wanted them to be in the best condition possible. That fact inspired him to stick it out. And, thanks be to God, we were finally able to get the green out.

We got him to the church with time to spare and without any yelling or hurrying. We took pictures, I said a little prayer over him and then we took our seats in the church. When the music started and I saw those tiny little angels processing in, I suddenly found myself holding back tears. The magnitude of the sacrament was divinely impressed on me as I watched each child approach the altar, make a bow and take his seat in the pew.

Of all the gifts, Aiden can receive; this one is the most important. Nothing I can buy for him, no matter how perfect or expensive, can ever compare. As much as I sacrifice for him, it will never compare to the price that Jesus paid. This is a gift that will change his life. It will give him the strength he needs to carry on - the grace he needs when nothing else will do. It is a gift that will never expire or break or go out of style. What Aiden received today was Jesus and He’s enough.

So today the tears were not sadness about how much my boy has grown but about how much Jesus loves him and how his life is going to change forever. It was beautiful.

Last night, after I tucked the boys in, I found the following.

It reads: "Dear God, I’ll be the best I can be. Tell me what to be. You are the best!! I will not worship idols. I will be nice to friends. And I will have courage. I will tell people that do not obey you to worship you. I will teach about you like Noah. I say that you are the best!! Aiden”

I went to sleep peacefully last night, because I knew that he got it.