Archive for April 2012

Spring quarter

Saturday, April 21, 2012

On my way home from day one of this quarter's classes, I got a text from Trey (who was in Alabama) asking "how were classes today?" My response: "I am sooooooo happy!!"  I don't believe I uttered those words once during the entire 11 weeks of winter quarter.  Everything the last term wasn't, this term is.  Glory Hallelujah!

So what makes this time around so much better?  In a word: everything.  First, I am taking three Secondary Ed. classes instead of General Ed.  Second, I have a friend in every single class.  In fact, on the first two days every classroom I walked into had someone waving at me and saving me a seat. (you would not believe how competitive the seating issue is.)  Last time around I could barely get anyone to look at me much less talk to me so this is such a welcomed change.  I didn't realize how lonely I was.  I need that human connection. Third, I get to do my intensive middle school practicum (40 hours in the classroom) with the most wonderful 6th grade teacher whose classroom I was in last quarter.She is energetic, organized and a grandmother of 14 so a classroom of 25 is a piece of cake for her.  I am learning loads from just observing her twice a week.  Fourth, along with that practicum, there are four of us who are crazy enough to love middle schoolers and we get to work on a project together and meet once a week with our amazing adviser.  It is the highlight of my week. Last, I am only in class during the hours of 10-2 when the kids are in school.  No 8 a.m. or 4 p.m. classes!!  No scrambling to find rides for the boys when Trey goes out of town.  No leaving for the night when everyone is coming home.  No coming home at bedtime and getting up the next day at 6.

As I look back, I can see God's hand in all of this.  Although last time around wasn't my favorite at least Trey only traveled once the entire three months.  He and the boys were up at the mountain most every Saturday and Sunday so I was guaranteed at least one full day to catch up on homework. This time around is the opposite: Trey has been gone every other week and will continue to be for the remainder of the quarter.  All three boys are doing a spring sport (this has never happened) and the weeks I am solo, Quinn has had at least two out of town games, my most demanding assignments are due and I'm guaranteed one quiz or exam that same week.  If I had the class schedule, professors, classmates and subject matters similar to the previous three months, I don't think I could do this craziness.  I'm so thankful God knew this.  He really is concerned with every little detail of our lives.

Four weeks down, seven to go!!

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A Proud Mama Week

Monday, April 2, 2012

Having three kids rarely means there is a day, week or month when all of them are functioning on all cylinders at one time. Usually one is up, one is down and the other is somewhere in the middle. Last week was one of those rare times when everything clicked and boy was this mama's heart full.

Looking ahead at the calendar when I returned from my trip, I was not particularly thrilled about the upcoming 5 days. Trey had stayed behind in Alabama, I was starting spring quarter classes, Quinn had three "away" soccer games, Ian had his end-of-season wrestling tournament and Ben had two evening soccer practices that conflicted with all of the above. I put my head down and plundered through knowing I would have to be okay with asking for rides, serving cereal for dinner and missing parts or all of each event.

Fortunately, my first day of classes was fabulous (more on that in a later post) and Russ (our "manny") sent me a text saying that he didn't feel like his job was done until Trey returned so he would be available if we needed anything. Boy did I ever need to take him up on that offer. Between classes on Wednesday I got a text that Quinn was in the counselor's office having a tough day. I can't go into details but suffice it say that sometimes a teacher's sarcasm doesn't mix with a teenager's fragile emotions. That evening after his game, he was pulled aside and asked to play in the varsity game on Friday. His excitement was quickly deflated when his J.V. teammates got word and told him it was only because the team would be missing players due to the start of spring break. Nice.

That evening Ian had three matches. Now this is a kid who isn't terribly competitive, eschews team sports and hasn't hit his growth spurt. But he has played his heart out all season long for only one win. I feared lots of tears both during and after matches along with threats of quitting. I am happy to report none of this happened. He was ahead by a lot going into the third round of his first match when his opponent pinned him. The second and third rounds he was the one doing the pinning and the tournament ended on a very high note. I couldn't have been prouder of his attitude, work ethic and overall respect for his teammates and their coach. He ended his inaugural season a winner in my book.

The next day Ben came home with his second trimester report card. He was a little upset because his percentages went down a little in two subjects and said "I'm definitely not getting high honor roll this next time." I know that it's a lot easier to start out of the gate fast and furious but maintaining that pace is really tough for most people. Ben is so hard on himself that he rarely needs any prodding to do homework or study so I encouraged him to keep doing his best. After he walked away, I picked up the paper to read it myself and of course went straight to the teacher's comments section. Her words were music to my ears: "Ben always displays a happy spirit! What stands out the most is his genuine acceptance of others and highly engaged attention." That is worth more than a 100% to me any day.

Friday night was the creme de la creme of the week. We headed out to Quinn's game and as soon as we pulled into the school parking lot, the skies let loose. Trey assured me it would blow over but as the minutes ticked by we donned our raincoats, grabbed our umbrellas and trekked out to the fields. It was worse than a torrential downpour and I was cursing the lack of spring in the Northwest and questioning why my kids don't play indoor sports. Quinn was playing the first half in the J.V. game and the second half with the Varsity guys. He was so nervous that he even left the house 30 minutes earlier than the bus was going to be at the school so he was "good and warmed up." I know the flack he was getting from the upperclassmen and his own teammates was bothering him. I prayed for him and his confidence and left it with God. What happened next was beyond my wildest dreams.

As the second half began, they were down 2-0 to a team they were predicted to beat handily. With 20 minutes left they scored as the goalie slid the wrong direction. Since Quinn was still on the bench, I continued watching the J.V game with some other moms when Ben informed me "They're putting Quinn in." Next thing I knew they had scored a second goal and we were now tied. Quinn was totally holding his own and keeping great control of the ball as a midfielder. With 7 minutes left, the ball was passed to him, he booted it from 25 yards out and into the net it went. It was an unbelievable moment. The other team never got down to the other end of the field and our team was able add another tally to the win column. The next morning's paper had a short article about the game. Here's a link to the next day's article. What a redeeming end to a tough start of a week.

I always feel proud of my kids regardless of how they perform because I know it's how you handle the adversity that truly reveals your character. But I also know that having some victories along the way really helps to buoy you through those trying times. Weeks like this are the moments I cherish.


Spring Break in the Carolinas

Sunday, April 1, 2012

In the last two years, Trey has probably been in the southeast no less than 6 times for work. Every time he reports on the warm sunshine or calls me while he's making his daily order at the Chick-fil-A drive thru, I seethe with jealousy. Back at the beginning of the year when he was planning out his travel schedule I asked if he could plan one that coincided with my school's spring break. Turns out he had to visit Greenville, South Carolina along with some other towns along the way and had to fly in and out of Charlotte. We were in business!!

It was not difficult in the least to leave yet another springtime snowfall and head south for a week. Everytime I land there, I feel like a missing part of my heart has found its way back home. I know it sound cheesy but I just love being in that part of the country. Maybe it's because that is where we started our family. Maybe it's because the values I hold dear are still important to the general population. Maybe it's because I crave the heat. It's probably a combination of all these. Whatever the reason, it was so nice to be back there and enjoy sweet tea, warm evenings, amazing shopping sans Canadians, hearing "yes, ma'am" or "how may I serve you?" and not being on a schedule.

A couple highlights of our trip was a mini-reunion with dear friends from Trey's childhood days in Columbia, South Carolina. When I had talked with them over Christmas, they told me that they heard Trey was traveling to the south a lot and the next time he was in town, they wanted to see him--even if they had to drive an hour or two to meet him. When I knew I was going to join him, we connected and worked out a time and a place to meet for dinner. Trey's parents made an even longer hike (7 hours) and were able to join us too. It was a wonderful evening and didn't feel like 11 years had passed since we had all been together. At the end of our week, Trey had a meeting outside of Asheville, North Carolina which feels like the "Bellingham of the south." on a larger scale. It's an artsy, hippie-like place tucked into the Blue Ridge mountains with cute shops and funky restaurants galore. We ended up staying just outside of the town but enjoyed it on our way back to Charlotte. The night before my flight we got to see our dear friends Lisa and Joe for dinner. It was Joe's birthday and he had no idea were coming so our knock at the door was a total surprise. They had friends visiting from Charleston and we all got along famously and enjoyed takeout from my favorite Charlotte restaurant, Mama Ricottas.

The boys were well taken care of by my mom for the first 3 days and our friend Russ, who is like a big brother to the kids, for the remainder of the week. One thing I was anticipating upon my return was that I would not get the "Mommy's home!!!!" welcome that I had the last time we had been on a plane and flown across the country away from them--5 years ago. They were 5, 8 and 9 back then. Days when we still had a lot of influence and they were still dependent on us. Those days are definitely behind us. Trey had to stay behind for the following week so I came home alone. When I walked in the door, Ian and his posse of fellow mountain bike riders were all helping themselves to various meals. One was making grilled cheese sandwiches, another was munching down on potato chips and Mountain Dew and my son was downloading their biking videos on the computer. The amount of dog hair coating the hardwood floors could have filled a pillowcase, crushed Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper cans were on every table within view and the general smell of the house exuded excessive amounts of testosterone. My first thought was "now I understand why the Lord said "it is not good for man to be alone." This house needed some serious estrogen infusion. And how. Quinn & Russ were out on a hike and Ben was kicking back in the basement watching soccer. At least Millie was happy to see me. After I unpacked and showered, I came back in the kitchen and noticed a pot roast in the crockpot so all was not lost.

I'm so thankful for the time away to reconnect with my hubby but there's nothing better than coming home.

After a wonderful dinner at Bonefish Grill. Love these friends so much!

I loved the steam rising from the rushing river along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

More sights along the Blue Ridge.

This was my favorite meal of the whole trip: Shrimp and Grits with a Lobster cream sauce. To. Die. For.

I just love covered bridges.