Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Summer Thing

So, there's no denying it now. Summer. is. over. This has been one of the best summers in recent history (which, I might add, is fleeting) and I've really tried hard to ignore the fact that I have a real job to return to in August. But I've been feeling guilty, too, because I haven't done a darn thing (that's almost true) this summer to prepare for teaching this fall. What is more accurate, I guess, is that I haven't done as much as I usually do to prepare for August. So I'm feeling the need to show some sort of productivity from the last 70 days of summer vacation (I feel a Phineas and Ferb title sequence coming on here).
So, here's what we did:
Went to Nebraska and hung out at Mama's Casa located on the new street that has been repaved (ironically in Dad's honor).
Did some science experiments in our cool goggles. Safety first!
Coached some t-ball....Spent two weeks at swim lessons so that we could finally get the chance to jump off the diving board...
Went to a Rangers baseball game in miserable heat...
Hung out with Grandma and Bobbi at the Botanical Garden in Fort Worth...
Saw the Mighty Mississippi....
Played some t-ball...
Went to Vacation Bible School.... Played in the rain (does anyone remember what that is?)...
Celebrated Peyton's birthday, and Presley's birthday....

And...went to Denise's to swim, went to Stovall park pool to swim, went to Randol Mill park to swim, attended the Texas PTA conference, worked on PTA stuff for 2010 and 2011, painted my classroom walls...cleaned up a half a gallon of red paint in the hallway outside of my classroom....ran with Mary and Karen...tried Insanity for the first time....worked on my Mary Kay business...helped many girls with their volleyball skills...helped Denise's girls with their volleyball skills...Parker lost two all of our family pictures taken and out of the way...worked on Presley's scrapbook...played with the kids. A lot. And that, my friends, might have been the best part of all.
Have a great fall, y'all.

Monday, July 12, 2010

More One Things

When Denise asked me a couple of days ago who's first year went the fastest, I really did have to work at trying to remember what Parker's first year was like, when he was the only child and the center of our universe, or Peyton's first year, when our house was totally insane with a toddler and an infant, or even Presley's first year, even though quite recent, really seemd like a blur.
So I thought it might be fun to look at all three kids' first years. Here are some photos (not all of them great, that's for sure) of the kids. And we're not comparing here, folks. Just considering. Just for fun. All in fun.
As infants: Parker, Peyton, and Presley

At five-six months: Parker, Peyton, and Presley

And at a year or so....

And look how I'm refraining from giving you the low down on each and every picture! I really am trying to work on my brevity. Truly.
(But I can't help but add that the one-year picture of Parker is really when he was 15 months old and had just busted his head open while we were playing chase in the living room and had to have seven stitches. But I had no pictures in digital format from his first birthday party. (Live and learn. Live and learn.) And the picture of Peyton at six months might be one of my top ten pictures of the kids. I love her big smile. And it was really hard to choose pictures to include for Presley because she makes these crazy faces and with each one she looks like a different kid.)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The One Thing

It will be official soon. At 9:37 tonight, Presley will have achieved her one-year birthday.

And other than that, I am totally speechless. Last night Denise asked me if Presley's first year has gone faster than Parker's or Peyton's. And I was dumb-founded. I didn't even know what to say. I couldn't even calculate in my head how time went by before Presley was here.

So instead of my blah blah blahing, here's the story of her birthday cake:
As soon as we put the cake in front of Presley, her hands plunged into the middle of the cake. ALL the way through the cake. She was up to her arms in cake, and, oh, how the big kids laughed at her! She was so proud of herself for entertaining them that I think she completely forgot that she had sticky goo all over her fingers.
Pat put some frosting in her mouth, and so did Jina, but she acted like she couldn't figure out how to get her hands out of the cake and into her mouth.
So she dove right in, mouth first.

And she was happy...

Kinda like the way she makes me. Happy.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A NotSoBrief Brief

Last weekend, we took an extended weekend trip to visit Patrick's brother, Eric, and his step-mother, JoAnn, in Missouri. Here are the basics:

Spent two hours packing the clothes, diapers, food, eating utensils/gear, diapers, videos, coloring books, markers, crayons, pencils, books, and the rest of the house so that we could live for four short days away from the house. Left the house 45 minutes after we planned on leaving. Stopped by the school to fax in our kids' claim for two free tickets to a Ranger's game. Got back on the road and realized that I forgot to pack my bathing suit. Went back to the house and got my bathing suit. Ended up wearing my bathing suit for one short hour Saturday morning.

Drove to Missouri. Saw a plethera of roadside vegetable and fruit stands. Promised myself that I'd buy some fresh vegetables and fruit from a roadside stand. Never stopped at a stand to buy vegetables or fruit. Ate at Burger King instead.

Began reading Confessions of a Shopaholic. Realized that I will probably never be considered a shopaholic. Finished the book in three days. Nearly abandoned my family in the process. Borrowed Shopaholic Ties the Knot from JoAnn. Finished it on the drive home from Missouri.

Went for a run Friday morning. Saw as many fields of crops as I did manicured lawns. Remembered why I love small towns in the midwest. Didn't die from heat stroke on my run. Remembered why I love summers north of the Red River.

Saw the Mississippi River at Cape Giradeau. Couldn't go near the river banks because the flood gates were closed. Wandered along the historic flood wall and railroad tracks. Found a dead beaver. Took a picture of the dead beaver. Wandered around the shops and restaurants. Found an antique store. Saw military displays. Saw clothes displays. Tried on hats with the kids. Laughed when Parker wore the ladies hats. Found the most beautiful antique wardrobe I've ever seen. Found Fisher-Price toys that had become distant but good childhood memories. Found an old play kitchen set like my cousins used to have. Remembered playing with toys. Remembered working in an antique store. Walked out without buying a darn thing. Reinforced my prediction that I will never be a shopaholic.

Ate at a restaurant and brewery that overlooked the Mississippi. Told the kids to keep their feet off the seats. Told the kids to stop fighting. Told the kids to drink their milk. Told the kids again to stop climbing on the seats. Tried to get Presley to eat her baby food that she wasn't interested in . Tried to quiet Presley's high-pitched screams that were amplified by the high-ceilings and empty restaurant. Never succeeded in keeping Presley quiet or finishing her lunch. Fed her part of Peyton's pizza and Parker's corndog instead.

Ordered a rasberry wheat beer. Hated the rasberry wheat beer. Begged Patrick to try it. Was disappointed when Patrick hated the rasberry wheat beer. Begged Patrick to choke it down so that we wouldn't be more of a nuisance to the restaurant.

Saw a sign for a winery on the way back to Sikeston. Travelled farther off the beaten path than we expected to find the winery. Saw more corn fields, soybean field, and milo fields. Remembered again why I love the midwest. Drove on a one-lane road to get to the winery. Got a closer view of the Mississippi River than any of us really expected when we had to detour around the flooded roads. Drove through the tree-covered, shaded, hilly countryside until we reached the winery. Remembered again why I love the midwest.

Tried some adequate wines. Talked with the natives. Perused the gift shop. Bought some wine for JoAnn. Bought some wine for Mom. Bought some wine for Denise. Bought some wine for me. Bought a couple extra bottles of wine to get a discount. Bought some gifts for friends. (Maybe I am a shopaholic.) Watched Parker and Peyton play fetch with the owner's dog.

Went to Dexter for a cookout with JoAnn and Eric. Walked to Dexter's new athletic facility. Was quite impressed with Dexter's new athletic facility. Played on the playground with the kids. Took Peyton inside the gym to get a drink. Took Parker inside the gym to get a drink. Walked back to JoAnn's. Saw a dead bird on the sidewalk. Showed the dead bird to the kids. Kicked the dead bird and it hit Peyton's leg. Felt guilty for scaring Peyton. Carried Peyton for two blocks while Patrick and I compared our lists of bonehead mistakes with the kids.

Remembered the charm and friendliness of Dexter. Stopped by Marlon's old store. Remembered the charm and friendliness of Marlon. Drove back to Sikeston.

Rode with Eric through Sikeston's Sunset. Saw people wandering around. Saw overgrown lawns. Saw people running to watch a fight. Listened to Eric talk about evictions and drug dealers. Prayed for Eric's safetly. Prayed for Eric's strength. Thanked God for Eric and his work as a police officer in Sikeston.

Woke up Saturday morning and swam at the hotel's pool. Realized the pool was far from heated. Stayed until the kids' lips turned blue. Got everybody showered and dressed for the day. Realized that my last pair of socks didn't match. Mentally cursed Patrick for not being more careful when he folds socks. Wore flip-flops instead.

Went to Lambert's to eat. Waited for ninety minutes to get a table. Met some really nice bikers from Kentucky while we waited. Met a three year old girl and her eight year old brother while we waited. Tried to keep Presley from going crazy from boredom while we waited. Gave Parker and Peyton all of my quarters so that they could play games so they wouldn't die from boredom while we waited. Took pictures of Parker catching the hot throwed rolls. Ate some rolls. Ate some fried okra. Ate some of the kids' roast beef and chicken and dumplings. Was too full to even eat the chicken salad that I ordered.

Stopped by Brett and Christy's. Saw his precious daughter Emma. Saw his precious daughter Emma love on Presley. Saw his precious daughter Emma play with Parker and Peyton like they had been life-long friends. Thanked God that Patrick has really good life-long friends.

Stopped by JoAnn's again. Told her good-bye. Almost choked on my Cheerios when she talked about a visit to our house.

Went to see the fireworks. Visited some more with Brett and Christy. Saw Abby and Carter. Watched all the kids play in the grass. Hoped that they weren't getting bitten by mosquitoes. Told the kids to stay out of the grass so they wouldn't get bitten by mosquitoes. Swatted mosquitoes away from Presley. Swatted mosquitoes away from my arms, legs, neck, face, and every other exposed body part. Took pictures of the kids playing in the grass.

Woke up Sunday morning and began packing our house back into the Durango. Mentally cursed Patrick for being able to sleep through it all. Rode as the co-pilot and began reading. Stopped to eat at Burger King again. Rode the rest of the way as a co-pilot. Finished my book. Nearly abandoned my children in the process. Thanked Patrick for driving the whole way so I could finish my book.

Got home and unpacked our house. Got ready for the week. Thanked God for a safe trip and a great family.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Coaching Thing

Musings from a has-been

I have this love/hate relationship with coaching. I love it, and sometimes, I hate that I love it.

In college when I was contemplating the rest of my life, I saw two distinct visions for my future. In one, I was a social worker, had a happy little family with happy little children and enjoyed my happy little life. It looked safe and secure and fulfilling enough. In the other picture, I saw myself as a teacher and a coach. My life looked wildly energetic, intense, and dynamic. There was a husband, but no kids. And even though I tried to picture a future with teaching and coaching and kids, I just was never able to really wrap my mind around it all. ALL of it at the same time happenning all at once ALL of it.

Obviously, I chose to teach and coach. And all this time I have been confident that God has put me where he needs me to be, but somewhere and sometime after I married Patrick, kids started to come into focus. Now, it took about three years (I still marvel at young married couples who are able to start having kids immediately after the do they have it all figured out so quickly?), but soon enough we were pregnant with Parker and holy crap! What about the "picture"? I was a head volleyball coach, our team had come from not even winning 10 games our first season together to qualifying for the regional tournament and I had my doubts....was I really going to be able to maintain the same amount of energy, focus, enthusiasm, and intensity for my team while also raising a child? or children? I'm not quite sure what it is in my brain (or my heart) that won't allow my mind to see it all together at the same time--coaching kids and raising my own kids--but it has always been a road block for me...

Funny how things happen. The spring after Parker was born, Patrick was offerred the job at Martin. I was able to tag along to teach English. Even though I hated leaving the girls who had worked so hard and gotten so far, I thank God for openning the door that led us to Arlington. I was hired as an English teacher with no coaching duties, and the blessing was that I was able to get my feet under me as a mom. Not that "just teaching" is a piece of cake, but the hardest thing about coaching, I think, is the scheduling. We were able to find the most fabulous care-givers in Nanny and Shawna and Patrick was coaching and our lives seemed to resemble normalcy and order.

But I missed coaching.

So the next year, as I was just a few months from delivering Peyton, the opportunity arose for me to resume coaching. And since we now had found good friends and good people to help us with the scheduling, coaching seemed like a good idea.

And it was, until Parker started school last year.

I felt like I was back at square one, unable to wrap my mind around teaching and coaching and family and now kids' school ALL at the same time happenning all at once. It was overwhelming. I mean, I could have figured it all out...if Patrick would have agreed to give up HIS coaching obligations. Because let me tell you, volleyball season was a snap. Leaving for school before the kids got up, coming home after they went to bed wasn't really that hard for me. Yeah, I missed the kids. But as far as stress? Little. Patrick took them to the babysitter or preschool. Patrick made their lunches. A lot of the time, Patrick fixed dinner. I was the accessory parent. What was hardest was when Patrick's season started rolling mid-October. Then, not only was I responsible for coaching and teaching, but I also acquired all of the kid responsiblities that Patirck had taken on for me while I was coaching volleyball. Then, two weeks after Patrick would start wrestling, girls' basketball would begin and it would begin BEFORE volleyball was over. Two sports (and for three weeks, three sports) going on at one time, plus all of the responsibility of making sure the kids were picked up on time, fed, bathed, and put to bed at a decent time was overwhelming. But I used to say, for as hectic as our lives were for the four months that Patrick and I were both in season, it was worth it for the "down-time" in the spring, when there was no after school practice, no games, and only three classes to plan, teach, and grade. I felt like it was then that I was able to catch up with my own kids.

As I began anticipating Parker starting "real" school, it became more apparent to me that I needed to be more available to our own kids. (Not to mention some serious--and not so kind at the time--I might add--nudges from God.) The kids were beginning to play t-ball and soccer, and I felt like I needed to be in the stands cheering on their teams instead of Parker and Peyton being drug to game after game cheering on my teams. (Not that it was a horrible life for them. Coaches and athletes are the kind of people that I want my kids to have as role models. Peyton loves going to games, and she and Parker always seemed to latch on to one of the kids from each team. And we still go to lots of high school games--it's just that now we all get to be spectators.) Parker was going to start school and I wanted to be able to focus on helping him adjust to the demands of school. And, we were pregnant with Presley; I wanted to have time to spend with her and enjoy her. Even though Peyton was a little disgusted with me for "quitting" and Parker still talks about how maybe I can have a desk in the coaches' office again someday, I just can't wrap my mind around how I can be the mom I need to be while also being the coach I want to be.

So, all of that to say I was a coach, then I wasn't, then I was, and now I'm not.

Do I miss it? Of course. Or, rather, I miss a lot of it. I don't miss narrow-minded and rigid parents, silly rules, and the drama that always comes with it. But when Denise approached me with the opportunity to coach a club team during March and April, I jumped at the chance. When a kid asks me to go to the gym to help them with their skills, I'm on it. It is a breath of fresh air to get into the gym and be around the kids and the sport. I have found that there are more than enough opportunities to get my coaching fix.

And one, namely, is t-ball.

When we (I) signed Parker and Peyton up for summer t-ball a couple of months ago, I checked the box that asked, "Are you willing to coach?" I figured with two kids on the same team we (Patrick) should step up and help in some way. Patrick had helped coach Parker's t-ball team last summer; he had coached his soccer team last fall. I checked the box, with a written-in addendum that we (Patrick) would coach ONLY if no one else wanted to.

Apparently no one else wanted to and Patrick was serious last summer when he said "I will never ever ever coach t-ball again" because now I am the coach of the Riverbandits 5 and 6 year old t-ball team.

I told the parents from the get-go that I'd coached high school kids for a long time, but have never coached 5 and 6 year olds. And let me tell you, it has been a humbling experience. Practices are chaotic. We can't run the bases without someone falling down. Haven't had a practice yet where someone doesn't cry. Games are a mess. There is dirt everywhere mostly because the kids can't keep from throwing it or kicking it or rolling around in it. I don't even go into the dugout because if a kid is on the field--defensively or offensively--he/she needs me to be out there, too. And it's dang hot. And talk about feeling ineffective as a coach. And did I mention it's dang hot?

So here I am, back to the thing I hate to love. But it's fun. The kids are silly. And they are sweet. And I think they are having a good time. For me, it's fun to be back in the game.

Whether they are learning anything remains to be seen....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Play Thing

It is summertime (Halleluiah!) and I am totally getting a kick out of being able to really watch my kids play. Here is what transpired yesterday:
1. When Presley woke up from her afternoon nap, I was in the middle of scrubbing the kitchen floor. So I sent Peyton to Presley's room to entertain her until I finished. The next thing I knew, Peyton had switched Presley's CD player from the soft little lullabies that she sleeps to over to the Mexican radio station. And Peyton pumped. up. the. volume. All I could understand amidst the polka-sounding music was an "amigo" here and there. Don't ask me what they were singing about, but it sure sounded happy. Pretty soon Parker had joined Peyton in dancing around the room to the music while Presley stood in her crib shaking the railings. Then, for at least ten minutes after I turned the music off, Parker and Peyton were running around the house shouting "Viva Mexico!"
2. Later in the afternoon, Parker and Peyton were "playing" brother and sister (don't ask me what they think they are imagining). Parker comes out of the kitchen with an old play cowboy hat upside down in his hands, with a dollar and a quarter in it, and tells Peyton, "Look, Sister, we have one dollar and twenty-five cents!" Were they panhandling under I-20? Lord only knows.
3. We have been steering Presley towards playing with things that she can practice standing next to. Last night I brought her little table toy into the living room to play while I cleaned up from supper. I looked up only to find that she had shoved Parker's dinosaur container next to the small table and was using it to get on top of the table. Daredevil.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Super Fan

Parker has been a little bit (a lot) figity in kindergarten the past couple of weeks, so it prompted me to ask him how he behaves during the one minute of silence that Texas public schools are required to hold during the school day. Kids (and teachers) can pray, meditate, sleep, whatever--as long as they are still and quiet (or that's the intention, anyway). So, do you think that Parker can sit almost completely still and quiet for one. whole. minute?

I guess the answer is "yes," or so he says.
Apparently this is how he spends it, or so he says:

Notice how his hands are in the "double Warrior" sign--the sign that Martin Warriors hold up during the school song, game point in volleyball, or any other time that we need to show our support for our Warriors.

Parker is a Martin Warrior Super Fan.

Last fall the football team made playoffs and made a historic three-round run. We went to almost every single regular season game and the kids loved it. One of Parker's friends from kindergarten had an older brother that played on the team, Peyton loves to play with all the other coaches' kids, and after the games, the kids always went down on the field to run and play and wrestle around. I knew the kids liked the games, but I didn't realize just how much they loved the Warriors.

The second round of playoffs took us out to Abilene to played the famous Permian High School. When the Warriors took the field, our six flag runners donned huge flags with an "M" "A" "R" "T" "I" "N" on each flag.

"MARTIN!" Parker screams.

When Permian ran out on the field, their flag runners carried three flags--each of them with a big silver "P" on it.

Parker yells: "P! P! P!? That spells nothin'! HA! Permian can't even spell!"

The next week we were back in the metroplex playing against the to-be state champions, the Trinity Trojans. Unfortunately, we were behind most of the game. In the middle of the second quarter, Parker grabs his bottle of water, downs the last few swallows, and then crushes the empty bottle with his hands.
"Take that, Trinity!" he screams.

Quite the taunter, I must admit.

So I guess it's quite fitting that Parker "represent" during the moment of silence.