Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cobb Lane

Okay, I admit it....the world of Birmingham has indeed passed me by.  In the three years that we have lived here, I had never been to Cobb Lane until today.  It was charming.  There is a lot of other words that I could use, but not many that fit it so well.  My friend M. has been wanting to take me there for a while and since this is my birthday month, now is as good a time as any.  The lane itself is very quaint, cobblestone.  The courtyard is very shaded, restful, and overhanging with greenery.  The food was "fairy"-fare with a little rustic, southern charm mixed in.  The waiter was from the "west coast" (which doesn't mean California) and was maybe a little too talkative, but very full of dry humor and fun.  And being the naive person I am, I never quite knew when he was kidding and when he wasn't.  I must say, the company was great as well....

Thanks, M. for a perfectly lovely luncheon (can I call it that?) in a magical setting.  

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Normal - What IS Normal

For me "normal" is having my kids close to me.  Letting them have some freedom, having them help me cook, clean and talking to them about lots of stuff.  Normal is also "read-alouds", quiet time, and a certain amount of electronics (video games being the most obvious electronics in our house).  Normal for summer is also spending a lot of time swimming (for me sitting by the pool watching kids), lots of projects, camp for the younger ones, and some amount of boredom for the kids which leads the younger two to create, play imaginary games, and spend time outside and even some TV thrown in there.  

I grew up in a "not so normal" family with a teacher for a mom and a preacher for a dad.  We didn't have a TV until I was in high school and then it was black and white and basically just to play Atari.  So, as a younger child, during the summer, we played outside and mostly read.  That was basically it.  We went on one great two-week vacation every year and of course I went to camp every year.  Other than that, we just hung out.  So, what is normal or is there a normal?  
Just wondering......anyone willing to weigh in?

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Poem and a Prayer

I weep....
  • because I have four children so loved.
  • because I have four special children.
  • because I want them to fulfill their dreams.
  • because I am overwhelmed with how to get there.
  • because of my child who will be hindered from his dreams.
  • because of my child who doesn't dare to dream or dare to share them.
  • because of my child whose dreams are laughed at.
  • because of my child whose dreams are too little.
  • because I know the uniqueness of each child gives them the place they have in our family and in the world.
Please help me to champion the cause of the dreams in my children.  Please help me to encourage them, to give to them in a way that will help them fulfill their dreams.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Neat progression:
  1. More than 15 years ago, we visit friends in Dallas that had just moved in.  Friend is out looking for a job.
  2. Friend has no answering machine, so we take a message about a job with a satellite company.
  3. Friend (using our directions, etc.) goes on the interview.
  4. Friend gets a job as sales rep in the Far East for the satellite company.
  5. Friend does very well.
  6. Friend's company gets bought out.
  7. Friend gets some stock and shortly after that leaves to go on his own.
  8. Friend builds a factory and starts making product.
  9. Friend again does very well and now has two factories, one of which his wife runs that makes plastics, also has three beautiful daughters.
  10. I am thankful that God used me to in some minute way to help this friend.  But, as I told him, he had to be the one to take that job and run with it.  I feel so grateful to be a part of this whole progression!!!


Last night, #2 went to a birthday party for two little 13-year-old girls.  We had the hardest time finding out how he got invited.  He didn't recognize either of their names and after looking them up in his yearbook, didn't really recognize either of their faces.  So he decided to go as this was a good opportunity to meet people, get to know others and "hang out".  Before the day rolled around, I realized that I knew (but not well) one of the moms.  So, I asked her if she invited my son because she knew me, but she said she really didn't know how he got on the list.  She said she thought it must be the other little girl that invited him as she is very social and probably "invited the whole 7th grade".  

So, he went last night.  This was his first girl/boy party since the days of say, kindergarten.  When I got there, I went to talk to the mom.  That is when it all came together!!  After we talked the first time about the invitation, This mom asked her daughter about my son.  Turns out the daughter knew him and HAD invited him.  She met him on the bus and thought he was a nice kid.  But, there is more....  She had seen him being teased at the beginning of the year and was concerned, so the mom contacted the principal and the daughter (despite her shy nature) was called in and made the principal aware of what was going on.  I knew that all this had happened, but the girl that went to bat for my son was a nameless, faceless "good samaritan".  Now, it makes #2 and I feel very warm that a shy little girl that we don't even know stood up for him when he was being teased.  And it feels even better because after a hard year, the perfect ending is to feel that we are a part of a community - part of a place, of schools, but more than that, part of people's lives!!!  

Thursday, May 22, 2008


My guy with Mrs. S

There is almost no way to explain the myriad of emotions that this one day has held for me.  I am over-stimulated, over-tired, over-wrought, and full of thoughts that I can't stop.  Today was my fifth-grader's graduation, the last day of of our first year of public school, the (last minute) meeting for my youngest (and third child to receive "services") to determine eligibility and sign his IEP.  I was already on an emotional roller-coaster leaving these people who have been in our lives for 9 months, then we finally got the test results back from #4  and that started a whole new journey.  I knew he was smart, had issues with getting his thought down, and was lagging in reading.  What I didn't know was that he is more than just "smart", but way behind in written expression.  Also, his reading although on grade level, is considered a gap because of his intelligence.  So, we start the rushed, souped-up version of an eligibility meeting and IEP in one.  There is only so much I can say about this, but just know that I am trying not to hash it over any more than is necessary. 

So we start the summer.  And more than ever before, I am faced with keeping them (and me) sane all day, keeping them focused on some chores (these have really fallen behind during the school year), and keeping them stimulated mentally.  So, let's see how we live up to that TALL ORDER!!

I am also taking deep breaths, thinking of bubble baths, naps and mostly trying to enjoy my time with them.   Sigh.......

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sad, but grateful

So, this is our first time to say "good-bye" to teachers - goodbye to those who have been such an integral part of our lives for 9 months.  I am very sad to think that these special people might exit our lives and we might never see them again.  I am very grateful to them for the year of teaching and caring and filling my kids lives and minds.  I feel huge amounts of gratitude for them and their love for their students and their craft.  I am in awe of them and their ability to do this year after year with small pay and little thanks.  

I remember when I would go back "home" and shop at this one store, I would sometimes see my first grade teacher "Mrs. Japp" (one of only two really GREAT teachers that I had) and I would love talking to her as an adult and remember that she liked me, was nice to me, and took an interest in me.  

Will it be like that for my kids?  Will they see their teachers one day and connect with them and remember what they did for them?  I hope so.  I hope that we see them around town.  I hope we can keep a little line of communication going.  I hope that those four really special people in our lives - for #1 - Ms. B, for #2 - many but especially Mrs. H, for #3 Mrs. V and for #4 Mrs. S - know how much they helped us, how much they inspired, and how much they encouraged them each to do their best, shine their brightest, and achieve what they could.  I love them for it!!!

And for next year, I look forward to meeting some other special people and getting the chance to get to know others.  I am only hoping that there are other teachers out there who care like these did and want to be a source of encouragement to my kids.  

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!  It can never be said enough.....

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Memories from Band Concert

Last night was my middle-schooler's band concert.  At the last minute I invited my brother to come.  It was very fun.  He commented about getting up and dancing when the jazz band played "Twist and Shout".  I told him if he did, I would have to blog it because he would embarrass
me.  He said, "You are threatening me with publicity?" I laughed.  

What you might not know about my brother is that he likes publicity, but enjoys sometimes "flying low".  It is a strange combination.  

I find we are all a little like that.  We don't want to seem like we like attention and don't want to crave it, but we enjoy a little bit being "known".  The awesome thing for me right now -(I don't always remember this - but right now it is so clear) I am remembering who knows us the best, loves us the most and HE is the most important "being" in the universe.  It is great to be known by HIM.  It is great to be loved by HIM.  This kind of "knowing", though, makes you feel incredibly small... and that is a great feeling, too!!!  He knows us inside, outside, upside down!!! He loves us more than anyone else ever could!!!  Just ask HIM to reveal himself to you and reveal yourself to you.  That's right, HE knows you better than you know yourself......

Other memories from last night- having all the kids together enjoying one child's moment (no one detracting by bad behavior or being bratty), going out to eat at 9:00 at night and having no ice and my husband having to order over and over as what he ordered was always out (so many times that it got very funny), the kids enjoying each other and us, tiny middle-schooler in a tux with a "too-big" jacket (very cute!!), the drumline from the high school (black lights and all), the music - how fun!!!

You get the picture.  Yesterday was a VERY full day.  I got the kids off for school (harder than normal), met some friends, drove to "small town" 100 miles away and back by 3:00,  Did homework, got the oil changed in the car, got everyone ready for the concert (alone), got to the school 45 minutes early, waited, enjoyed the concert, went to eat, rushed home to fall into bed at 10:00.  Exhausted!!!  And there was a lot in the middle there, like listening to one of my favorite people speak (my friend and "sage"), connecting with God deeply (emotionally), driving and talking to my friends in the car - LONG DAY.....

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Our Families

These are from Christmas, but the more I think about it, the more thankful I am for our families, and that we could all get together for a picture.  I love to look at our big, beautiful families and enjoy all the different people and personalities!!!  I appreciate everyone giving a little (or a lot) to get together....

Friday, May 2, 2008

Next year

Middle school is a tough place to be these days.  The kids are mean to each other, the teachers are doing their best, some are doing better than others at inspiring the kids, helping them learn.  But it is a place where my child (#2) has not yet found "his place".  So I worry about his self-esteem, his view of his place in the world.  I worry that he won't recover easily from this horrid place he has to go to every day.  He is becoming more and more someone I don't know.  The kid who likes to talk has become someone who is scared of saying anything in front of other people.  

He is making it, though.  He is somehow surviving.  I see that he has a bright future despite what he is told about himself during school hours.  I try to convey that to him, but he is doubtful right now.  He needs to find his spot on the planet.  

I am not saying he is not "odd".  He likes Legos still.  He is in 7th grade and still wants to be a little boy.  He is innocent in some ways.  He is learning, though, sadly to be someone who might could be mean back.  

He doesn't want to believe me when I tell him what he truly IS.  I am just "dumb Mom", you know.  He doesn't want to give his best when everyone else is skating by.  He wants to shut down and curl up in a ball and "survive".  But I can see so much better for him.  I want him to see himself as God sees him.  He is a pretty wonderful kid and we have much to be thankful for.   
Next year, #2 and #3 will be in this environment.  They will both be subjected to the mean, vile side of youth.  The atmosphere in our house will likely change forever.  I have to remind them right now to be nice to each other.  What will it be like then?  I can only hope and pray........