The Rock and the Hard Place

School begins for me tomorrow. It begins tomorrow, because after tonight my summer is over. Tomorrow I meet my department chair at 8:30 at school so we can coordinate our presentation for inservice on August the 11th. On Tuesday and Wednesday I have all day middle school conferences to attend for the district. On Thursday and Friday, I will be wrapping things up around the house, buying school supplies and new shoes, and preparing my last ladies’ class of the summer. On Saturday we have time with the kids scheduled. Sunday. . .church. Monday the 7th, all day team leader conference. Tuesday, ladies class and drop the kids at my in-laws because Wed. is the first day of school for teachers. . .OFFICIALLY.

My job is a blessing. I work with very nice people–especially my department chair who made/makes my working life so much easier than it could be. And I am ready to go back to school. . .but I don’t want to go back to school. We’ve had a wonderful summer. . .so much fun. . .and today really was the last day of it. It’s so funny–this week was “take your child to work” day for my sister-in-law’s company. She had us bring Thad and Victoria to her office. On the way there Victoria said, “Mommy, what is work?” “What do you mean honey?” “Well, you and Daddy just go to school but Aunt Lisa goes to work. So what is work?” I remember thinking for the longest time that my mom didn’t work–she just taught school. That was because she was off with us on all major holidays and summer and she was also right down the hall from me most of my school-attending career since she taught in the private school I attended. An odd set of circumstances for children of school teachers–work indeed.

So. . .off to bed with me. I must rest so that I can accomplish all tomorrow that needs to be done. . .mainly it involves thinking–putting my brain back into “school gear.” The problem is that “school gear” and “summer gear” are EXACT opposites. . .so there’s lots of grinding and jerking and unpleasant noise making in general to switch gears. . .no matter how many times I’ve done it. It’s even more unpleasant since I know what it entails.

Besides, the state of Texas in the very sincerest of law-making ways says that Victoria MUST attend school. . .and it’s a pretty good idea for Thad too even though we are holding him out of kindergarten for a year. So since they are going to be gone all day long. . .and Tony is too. . .I might as well go with them and make some cash to buy that copper rooster weather vane. . .AND pay the light bill. 🙂

(Big Sigh Here. . .)

Back to school.

Victoria Lauren

Exactly eight years, one hour, and eleven minutes ago today, I had my first baby. A lovely little girl. Her daddy told me we had brought a daughter into the world. I was euphoric after 15 hours of labor and some really heavy duty pain relievers. I was so euphoric, in fact, that I believed the RN (one of four) who told me that my baby was fine and would be with me in 6-12 hours. I was so euphoric that I believed them when they said it was absolutely normal to take her away in an enclosed incubator. I believed them when they said it was normal to have four nurses and two doctors in the room. I believed them the whole time I inhaled my meal–ham sandwich, juice, milk, fruit. I could not comprehend why Tony was so glad she wasn’t on oxygen. . .the nurse said she was fine. . .but she wasn’t.

She was sick–very sick–and were it not for modern technology, she would have died.

She didn’t though. She is asleep on her periwinkle blue, hot pink, lime green, and lemon yellow paisley sheets in her bed right this second. Ten of her friends and her brother were here tonight to celebrate the fact that she, aside from a benign Still’s murmur and a scar atop her head from the internal monitor, bears not one mark from the 6 days she spent in the NICU waiting to be able to breathe, suck, and swallow at the same time. She turned 8 years old today. . .and all she knows of those first harrowing days are the few stories we’ve told her.

I, on the other hand, have some wrinkles, gray hairs, and memories that cause me to feel lots of emotions all at one time when they prance through my conscious train of thought. The scent of that icky red soap I had to scrub with every time I went to see her–the way she smelled–rocking her and singing to her–the first time she was able to nurse after 6 days of a crevage tube down her throat–Nurse Gloria and Nurse Jackie–the morning I woke up ready to hurt anyone that stuck my baby with anything else–the night I walked in at midnight to find the pediatrician in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt hovering over her, reading her chart, trying to figure out why she wasn’t getting well faster. . .she had come back to the hospital to check on Victoria because she couldn’t sleep.

This little girl is an amazement. She is glorious and beautiful and loud and energetic and bossy and kind and smart and creative. She loves pink and red and anything colored in rainbow order. She loves ANY kind of art project. She is scared of puppies and kittens but will hold a snake or a crab on the beach. She loves school. She is a whiz at math and can read at least two grade levels above her age. She is a sweet friend. She wants everyone to belong. She thinks dessert is a necessity. She talks A LOT. She tells her brother her “ideas” and “plans” causing him to exclaim, “I can’t take it ANY MO, Vitoya!!!!” She is thoughtful and loving.

Above all she is a blessing. Because she is so healthy and vibrant and active, it is hard to recall that she came close to not being at all. But she is here–and we are blessed to see her grow. I called her a little girl. . .she’s really getting to be a big girl. She is not a baby anymore–but she does still look like her baby self when she is asleep.

Sometimes I take her for granted. I don’t always give her all the attention she wants or needs. The days slip by. I try to hold onto them–but they’re gone like pearls from a string. So I sneak into her room at night and kiss her cheek–and when I do, she sucks her lip like she did when she was small. I pray over her as she dreams. I beg God to keep her in His care all the days of her life. She is my angel girl. And, today, she is eight years old.

We are Building a New House

Tony and I are planners. We like to plan well in advance of most things we do. We very seldom choose to fly by the seat of our pants. . .plus it’s already hard enough to find a good pair of jeans, and wings on one’s posterior would make it nigh unto impossible.

That being said, we are building a New House. In two years. We are building The New House in two years after already having planned for it ten years now. . .and already having worked REALLY hard toward it for another year. We, like most young married couples, had debt. We had SUBSTANTIAL debt since I stayed home with babies for five years. . .and during that time there were lots of dentist and doctor and car emergencies. You will not find “trip to Cancun” on our back credit card statements. We are now about two months away from COMPLETELY paying off our debt. (Imagine the Dora the Explorer mariachi band of snails playing their little “you figured it out” song here.) So now we are REALLY planning The New House.

Tony and I have been blessed with similar taste in decor–he’s not girly–I’m not masculine–but we agree on what we like. For instance. . .we have an over-large (silver) pocket-watch clock on our mantle. If you know Tony you could imagine him saying, “That is not a realistic looking clock.” But instead he says, “That is really neat.” And I get to keep the unrealistic pocket watch clock. Plus 13 years of marriage has let me know just how much quirky/unrealistic/pink I can get away with, so I don’t push it.

Summer is a time when we have more latitude to dream–we can stay up until 3:00 in the morning searching the internet for the perfect rooster weather vane to place atop our new home (we have wooded acreage in a nearby county in a rural area). We can finally get a table and matching chairs (6 chairs, no bench) to go in our kitchen and since we are no longer in debt and since The New House is only two years away, we feel we can buy the kitchen dining set now since the one we’ve longed for is on sale at a store near us (plus we get an extra 20% off tomorrow ONLY. . .so no chit-chatting after church). We have finally decided on a kitchen look we like (similar to Antique Mommy’s only with stainless steel appliances), and we are close to deciding on paint for our interior (Sherwin Williams “Filtered Sun”–looks pretty muddy in the can, but is a lovely buttery yellow on the walls).

You see, we are planners. It’s a lot of fun. It’s also a little scary–the fact that The New House is getting close. Do we really deserve to have it? Should we really want it this badly? I ponder these questions in relation to what God would have me do. I don’t have any answers yet. . .just prayers of thankfulness. . .and more prayers for wisdom.

Changes are pretty scary to much of the population of my present house. Victoria has already cried today (twice) over the immanent demise of the current kitchen table. She has pondered and plotted several ways to keep it AND the new one too (in 1400 sq. ft. no less). Part of it is she doesn’t want anything to change ever (her exact words) and part of it is that she somehow thinks (although she didn’t state it but I know because she is my emotional twin) that we will be hurting the old tables’ feelings by casting it aside like a used popsicle stick (which she also wants to save for an art project). (Now you are thinking we should be spending our money on therapy for our eldest and me rather than a new home, I know.) The verdict is still out on Thad, but right now there’s atleast hope or him. Maybe that’s why Tony and I are planners. If we plan and think ahead enough–then the changes aren’t so scary–we feel more in control.

Of course that’s a whole other issue–because we really aren’t in control of many things–that’s why we also have several back-up plans at the ready should the need arise. I guess/am hoping it doesn’t hurt to THINK you’re in control as long as you KNOW you’re really not.

Anyway–ponderings. . .musings. . .dreaming. . .planning. We are building a New House. We’re just buiding it two years from now. I thought you’d all like to know.

So Much Better than the Elementary Version

Rebecca Kerr tagged me, and this is just what a needed today. . .a nice game of tag. I like this so much better than the elementary version. There is no running, no sweating, no hitting, no bases, and I’m not the slowest one.
The A-Z Tag Meme
Accent: VERY, VERY, VERY southern–even worse when I’m “back home”

Bible Book that I like: Hebrews

Chore I don’t care for: mopping or sweeping

Dog or Cat: Australian White’s Tree frog, 8′ Boa Constrictor, 3′ Corn Snake, rabbit, 2 chickens, tarantula, a normal pet wouldn’t stand a chance–plus I’m allergic–the animals are not mine

Essential Electronics: does air conditioner count? No? computer then

Favorite Movie: Pretty Woman, It’s a Wonderful Life

Gold or Silver: Silver

Handbag I Carry Most Often: anything big and brown works for me

Insomnia: no

Job Title: teacher, mother, wife, etc.

Kids: Victoria (8), Thaddaeus (5), Tony (38) 😉

Living Arrangements: cookie cutter suburban

Most Memorable Moment: feeling my babies move for the first time

Naughtiest Childhood Behavior: I faked throwing up on a Wednesday night so I could stay home from church and watch a Shawn Cassidy special on t.v.

Phobia: You will laugh. . .snakes. And losing one of my children

Overnight Hospital Stays: Child bearing only

Quote: “Prayer doesn’t change God. It changes me.” C.S. Lewis

Religion: Follower of Christ

Siblings: Suzanne (chiropractor), Hal (electrician)

Time I Wake Up: School year 5:30, Summer 7:00-9:00 depending. . .kids are always up by 7:30, but they are now old enough to turn off the alarm, go downstairs, turn on the t.v., and graze at will until we get up

Unusual Talent: I love to organize, but it doesn’t look like it by my house

Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: raw tomatoes

Worst Habit: relapses into nail biting, procrastination

X-rays: Orthodontal.

Yummy Stuff I Cook: chicken and rice, homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, King Ranch Casserole, fried fish, a really, really, really wonderful chocolate cake

Zoo Animal I Like Most: Giraffes. . .they have such gorgeous eyelashes

So I pick Sandy, Tifty, and Donna

The World’s Smallest Violin. . .

Pre-epilogue. . .Before you read my whining. . .the dentist went great–no one had a cavity. My wisdom tooth can stay put. And my broken tooth was just missing porcelain on a crown–so nothing major to be done for any of us. AND Thad has his first wiggly tooth.

Remember when you were a kid and you whined about something. . .there was always some wise cracker raedy to rub their thumb and forefinger together and say, “This is the world’s smallest violin playing ‘My Heart Bleeds for You.'”

Well, I feel like whining.

I feel like whining because my summer is coming to a close, and I am desperately trying to finish all of the projects I wanted to get done with my two months.

I am whining because every member of my immediate family loves me so dearly, that they either want to be near me, asking me something, or having me watch them do something every second of the day (including Tony.)

I am whining because it has begun to rain and we have to leave the house in 8 minutes. . .

And I am whining because the reason we have to leave the house in 8 minutes is to go to the dentist. . .the kids and me. . .and it will be expensive. . .and I will probably receive confirmation that my wisdom teeth need to be cut out. . .

That being said, I have NOTHING to whine about–not one bloomin’ thing–so I’m hoping that sending my whiney, pouty, teeny-weeny inconveniences out into cyber space will rid me of them.

I am blessed beyond anyone I know–I’ve had a wonderful summer, and I have a good job to which I am returning. My family loves me. We are getting much needed rain. And we can afford to pay at the dentist’s office rather than putting it on plastic. AND I have a computer, a blog, and friends who will “listen” to me whine. 🙂

Wonder Woman? Yes. No. Maybe. Sometimes.

We got home from Louisiana Monday. The trip was good. The kids had a great time. MaMaw and Pop got to feed them lots of icecream and hand out tractor rides. While there my sister gave Victoria the entire first season of Wonder Woman on dvd for her birthday. It had been a favorite show of mine when I was little, and Victoria is now enraptured with Wonder Woman as well. Aside from a deplorable lack of clothing on her very voluptuous figure, Wonder Woman is a very mild show. . .she dresses more modestly as her mild-mannered alter-ego, and she doesn’t always need her handsome Steve to save her.

I have been teaching a ladies’ Bible class at church this summer. I thought about several topics, looked at lots of books, and in the end came up with my own:

“Words to Live By: Modern day quotes from a Biblical perspective.”

This has been a lot of fun to do. . .and I’ve gotten to indulge my love of collecting wonderful quotes from various sources. The ones I chose as focus lessons are ones that are particularly meaningful to me. . .mostly they apply to current or long-term struggles of my own. Some of these collected gems will be sprinkled throughout this post.

We arrived home to several phone messages. . .one of them a call from my school secretary. As it turns out, a position has come available that is a teaching AND administrative position all rolled into one. She was calling on behalf of our new principal to issue a personal invitation for me to come and interview for it. My first reaction was to laugh hysterically–which I did–in my kitchen. After that I was really glad I’d not been home to receive the phone call so I could come up with a more professional refusal. I called the outgoing Academic Achievement Helping Teacher (the job that was up for grabs) to ask why she was leaving–she’s a friend that I knew was considering staying home–and she encouraged me to take the job. “Thanks, but no thanks,” said I. (“Horse-sense is ‘stable’ thinking hitched up with the ability to say ‘Nay.’” Unknown)

I called the next morning and got the new principal rather than the secretary. I thanked her for her issuing such an invitation (only three of us were called), and declined stating my reasons very clearly . (“Women aren’t trying to do too much. Women have too much to do.” May Kay Blakely) She proceeded to poo-poo all of my reasons and strongly encouraged me to reconsider my refusal. Again, I said thanks but no thanks.

TODAY I get a call from one of the school counselors asking that I really pray about and think about this. . .I would be the “perfect fit.” I care about my students on a personal as well as academic level. . .and so the words flowed. It was harder to say no to her–she’s a friend as well.

I had JUST HUNG UP THE PHONE WITH HER when the outgoing teacher/administrator called AGAIN to see if I’d made up my mind. I thought I had stated it clearly the day BEFORE.

My point being this. It is very, very hard for me to say “No.” (“In this life sometimes we have to choose between pleasing God and pleasing man. In the long run it’s better to please God—he’s more apt to remember. Harry Kemelman) I have been a pleaser most of my life. I tend to go above and beyond to make even the least involved person in my life feel loved and appreciated. I have done this to the point of burning out on more than one occasion. I used to do this mainly because of insecurity about whether or not someone would like me. . .now it’s about what they will think of me. . and it is still a struggle. After the counselor’s call this morning, it took me about an hour to get a handle on myself and my guilt over saying no. (“Show me a woman who doesn’t feel guilty, and I’ll show you a man.” Erica Jong) It is flattering to be wanted and needed. . .there is also a lot of guilt that I tend to carry over disappointing people. I had to go back and revisit all of the reasons I initially turned the job down. And I am confident with my decision.
(“The best time to make a decision is before you have to make one.” Unknown)

When my friend Doris (the outgoing gal) called again this afternoon, I said, “I would love to do it someday–just not this day.” She said, “Well, this opportunity might not come up again for awhile. If you EVER want to do it, now is the time.” And my reply was, “It WILL come up again, and if it doesn’t, that’s okay too.” And I meant it. Right now I have two leadership positions in my full-time job, a very full-time family, and not only that, but I’m “crafts lady” for Brownies this year. . .what more do they want from me??????????????????????????????????
(“Let me not bite more off the cob than I have teeth to chew.” Ogden Nash)

Well, what they want me to do the job they want me to do rather than the one I need to do. So this very descriptive post is written for me to clear my head and for me to say this to anyone who needs to hear it. Listen to your own voice–not the one in your head, but the one in your gut. (“When I was young, I didn’t worry about making decisions. If I found I was on the wrong road it was easy to go back. The distances were shorter. Now I’m all the time second guessing; wondering if I’m doing right. Sometimes in the night I’m woken up by my own voice—the voice of a woman, a mother, a child. Those are the times I have to close my eyes and listen hard and hope that one of these voices will come clear and be right.” Lilly Harper From I’ll Fly Away) The one that screams “NO! NO! NO! Absolutely not!” or “I’d never thought of that. Maybe I ought to try.” or “Not right now, but someday.” Of course there are lots of times when we need to follow our head rather than our gut. . .when we need to “Think yourself into feeling better rather than feel yourself into thinking better.” But I truly believe it is the gift of God–that gut reaction to something. . .especially when we’ve lived long enough to pair our intuition with wisdom.

It’s taken me years to learn that lesson. . .today it took me only one hour to come back to what I already knew. I know what’s best for me and my family. Thank you God for the lessons of life and the ability to grow and learn every day.

*UPDATE. . .July 13, 9:30 a.m.* The counselor called AGAIN just to make sure. I still told her no. I’m thinking of taking the phone off the hook. 🙂

Going Home

Tomorrow we leave for Louisiana to see my parents, brother and his family, and sister. There is a mix of excitement, anticipation, and anxiety. . .the latter comes mainly from marital strife between some family members. I wish happiness and harmony for them, but they seem to think things are too far gone.

Anyway. The kids are excited. The clothes are packed (and it’s not even midnight). I am ready visit with Momma and Daddy. We may take the kids and my nephews to see Cars–second time for mine. We will swim at my sister’s house. We will make memories for the children.

Thing is that a couple of years ago I realized that when I say, “I’m going home,” what I mean is that I’m going to my childhood home. Then we come “back home” to Houston. I would say that Houston has become home, but that’s not true either. Home is wherever the people who live under my roof are located–Tony, Victoria, and Thad. Tomorrow home will be in our car. Last week home was in Galveston. Home is wherever my own little family of four happens to be. REALLY home is where Tony is, because at the beginning and in the end, he will be the only one with whom I’ve made a home.

And one day, when we all get to heaven, then we will truly be Home, because we will all be there together forever–and not just my family of four–all of us. Home is where the heart is–right? Well, God has “placed eternity in the hearts of men”, so I know that though this world is a lovely place full of wonder and amazement and joy, my Home is over Jordan in the presence of my Father.

Have a good weekend.