Twenty-Seven Years

Today is our twenty-seventh wedding anniversary. That sounds like a long time. Over half of my life.  

When I started thinking about our anniversary, my mind first went back to the day before our wedding. 

Family and friends together, lots of laughter. A simple rehearsal at Rolling Hills Church, dinner at AQ Chicken House, and the final episode of the T.V. series, “Cheers.”

My thoughts quickly moved forward through the wedding, honeymoon, raising three kids, all the places we have lived. It’s amazing how many memories can fill my mind in such a short few minutes. There are so many stories I could share.

But then, my train of thought changed. I didn’t need to write about the past. Nor did I need to think about the future. I only needed to focus on the day at hand. And what it signifies for us both.

This anniversary reminds me that forever is really about commitment. And that commitment has little to do with feelings. It is a promise that runs much deeper.

There is a phrase we often say to each other-You’re stuck with me! Yes, it is spoken in humor, but also carries truth. A truth understood from the day he proposed-this is forever. We are in it for the long haul.

Marriage has shown us our strengths and weaknesses. There is a balance created when we accept those strengths and weaknesses in each other. One would not be the same without the other.

I can’t imagine my life without Gart. Our journey has been quite an adventure. Filled with ups and downs, tears, and lots of laughter.

Here’s to twenty-seven years of marriage. I approach the day with a grateful heart. No worries about yesterday or tomorrow. Only resting in the promise that brought us to today.

Happy Anniversary, Gart! I love you! ❤

And don’t forget-you’re still stuck with me! 😉

Chips Anyone?

When a problem occurs with technology, it is often user error. That was definitely the case for me this week. And though the result can be frustrating, this time it was kind of funny.

I love Sam’s Club app. Useful technology designed to make shopping quick and easy. Once the desired item is located, I scan the price with my phone. I can even check out and pay on my phone. No standing in lines.

I made a quick stop there the other day. My mother-in-law asked if I would pick up a specific bag of chips. We had eaten these quinoa and chia chips at a wedding shower for Robert and Erin back in January. They were so good!

Since I had already done our regular grocery shopping, the chips were my only reason for this stop. Certainly not a typical trip to Sam’s, but this is the only place I can find these chips.

Because they are so good, I decided to get a bag for myself. I scanned the first bag, and then entered a quantity of two. All done shopping, right? Maybe not.

I spotted the boxes of Veggie Straws. We like those, too. So, I scanned the box, clicked check out, and pay. All done.

And then I noticed the total. Something wasn’t right, but I had already hit pay. A quick review of my purchase showed a total of three bags of chips, but no Veggie Straws. Apparently, I had accidentally scanned the chips again.

There was only one thing to do. Put back the Veggie Straws, grab another bag of chips, and leave.

Walking past all the people in line with full carts, I couldn’t help wonder if they noticed the crazy lady carrying three bags of quinoa and chia chips.

Anyone need a bag of chips? They come highly recommended! 😉

Schemes to Switches

I’ve previously mentioned that my husband loves referring to me as a schemer.  Once an idea enters my thoughts I work to make it a reality.  This particular trait appeared way before meeting him. I’m certain my mom could testify. One example from my childhood stands out clearly above the rest.

I don’t remember exactly our age, definitely younger than ten.  The “we” was me and my cousin Rebecca, a great schemer in her own right.  Born only twenty days apart, we were always close growing up. Rebecca has five younger sisters. Imagine seven little girls when you added me to the mix!

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~Me and Rebecca~

There was one specific instance when I’d been invited to spend a few days with my cousins. We all piled into their Volkswagen Bug and began the thirty-minute drive to their house.  During the short trip, Rebecca and I immediately began plotting.

Our scheme? Secretly sneak out of their house and walk several miles down a dirt road to visit her Uncle Jack and his family.  Why were we being sneaky?  I have no idea! But we were all ready to go the next morning.

There was one small problem.  Barbara, one of the younger sisters apparently overheard our conversation and insisted on tagging along. What if we said no?  She would tattle on us, of course!

Off went our little trio, down the long driveway, and out onto the dirt road.  We were not even past the house when we heard Aunt Mary’s voice, “Rebecca? Kelley? Barbara?  Where are you, girls?”  We attempted hiding in the ditch, but Barbara started to cry.  Shushing her proved impossible and we were quickly discovered.

Our adventure was foiled, and talk about being in trouble. Aunt Mary took a switch to our legs while we ran around the yard like a bunch of chickens.  Though the switch didn’t really hurt us, it did help teach us a valuable lesson.  Seeing this now as a parent, I’m certain we caused Aunt Mary a great deal of panic. She was, after all, attempting to keep up with seven young girls.

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~The six sisters and me all grown up~

Reminiscing over this little adventure has brought lots of laughter over the years.  But the best part of the story is yet to come. To this day if we mention it around Aunt Mary, she still feels terrible about switching us!  Forty plus years later!  She has to be one of the most kind, patient, calm people I’ve ever known.  Managing all of us girls while keeping her sanity had to be challenging.

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~My mom and her sister, my Aunt Mary~

Did our scheming pay off in the end?  Well, not exactly the way we had planned. We did learn an important life lesson about being safe.  But even more important, we were reminded then and continue to be reminded now, how much we are loved.

I love you, Aunt Mary

 

 

 

Plans

Teachers love the word plan.  Lesson plans, sub plans, plan time-each have an important place in our school days, weeks, months, years…sometimes our bests laid plans go awry.  Then there are those rare moments when the simplest of plans exceed our expectations.

This was one of those days.

Freddie the Frog and his adventures on Treble Clef Island are breathing new life into my K-2nd grade classes.   (See earlier post-The Innocence of Imagination.) The plan for today sounded simple, and came with very little explanation.  I was actually nervous that I hadn’t added something, afraid it wouldn’t take enough time. Students were going to learn how to create stories using barred instruments such as xylophones by having the story characters, Freddie and his elephant friend Eli, talk back and forth to each other.

Let me just say, having kindergartners play xylophones can be a daunting task.  Imagine twenty-something of them having to wait their turn, holding mallets, making sure the mallets only touch the instruments…enough said.  But I really have to brag on them.  They did such a great job!

We brainstormed before moving to instruments, creating conversations between Freddie and Eli.  Everything from “Do you want to play?” “Yes I do!” to “Would you like some waffles?” “That sounds great!”  Each class came up with at least four different question/answer phrases, their very own ideas.  I spoke the words in rhythm, they echoed, then we repeated the activity on the instruments.

We played, we laughed, we created…I was both energized and exhausted all at the same time.  My plan is to do it again tomorrow with a different set of kiddos.  Will it work exactly the same?  Possibly, but probably not.  And that’s okay.  Tomorrow is a new day.

 

 

 

 

House to Home

Our family has lived in our current home for fifteen years.  Kids were nine, seven, and three when we moved in.  Prior to that move we had lived in four different houses in three different cities, and two different states.  I remember feeling so relieved to be settled.

As someone who spent the first seventeen years of my life (until I left for college) in the same house, all of our moves were challenging.  I worried about how the kids would handle each new place.  Would they make friends easily?  Would I?  Of course, we all adjusted in our own way.

This house has truly become home.  It’s where our kids grew up.  So many memories.  For example, my concern that Ryan would fall down the stairs.  He was so little when we moved in, and the kids bedrooms were all upstairs.  As it turned out, the concern should have been for me!  I was the first one to bounce down the stairs on my bottom.

Although there was the time Robert tumbled down the stairs.  Apparently Robert, Rachel, and Ryan were playing the game “follow your siblings directions while wearing a sleeping bag over your head.”  I’m sure you’ve all played that one before!  Some friendly advice; make sure the sibling giving directions knows their right from their left…

Many of the memories involve celebrations-and food.  Saturday morning pancakes, Sunday night Chinese take-out, Dad’s burgers on the grill, my chocolate chip cookies, yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Birthday parties, holiday dinners with extended family, graduation parties-so many things to celebrate.

Well…things are about to change.  We currently have a high school senior and a college senior, and an already moved out and employed teacher.  We know from experience these next few months will fly by.  And though our nest won’t be immediately empty, that is the direction we are rapidly heading.

Gart and I have talked many times about preparing for this next stage in life.  He would even joke and tell the kids we were going to buy a tiny house or move to a loft apartment downtown.  Neither of those is going to happen, but we are preparing to buy another house and sell this one.

Right now my thoughts are mostly in the details-time frame, moving boxes, etc.  But they  unexpectedly drift and I find my eyes welling with tears.  This happened while driving away from the home we eventually decided to buy.  It’s a beautiful home, warm and cozy.  I am excited.  So why was I crying?

Change is like that.  Even when the change is positive, it still comes with growing pains.  Right now my growing pains involve how my role as a parent is changing.  Since the majority of my parenting years took place in this house, leaving it will be emotional.

Sometimes when I’m at home alone, our once busy house feels like an empty shell.  I’m thankful for the flood of memories that fills the empty spaces.  Just as our family established traditions and made memories here, I must trust we will do the same in our new house.  And as old memories travel with us and mix together with the new,  a transformation will take place-one that will turn house to home.

Warning: Frazzled Teacher Ahead

All day today I felt like I should have been wearing a caution tape sash or carrying a big red sign.  Oh, you know, something like- “Warning!  Frazzled teacher! Approach at your own risk!”  Yes, I can laugh now but if I’m completely honest, there were moments I almost cried.

Car duty.  I usually enjoy morning car duty.  Greeting the kids as they arrive at school, lots of hugs and high-fives.  Most of the time, it starts the day on a positive note. Except on days like this…pouring down rain, holding an umbrella, trying to open car doors.  And today I decided to wear a skirt.

Needless to say, I was feeling frazzled as I tried to wring out the bottom of my skirt in the bathroom sink.  Taking the focus off my skirt, I looked in the bathroom mirror.  I’m not sure my hair has ever looked that frizzy.  My first thought-I have a music teacher meeting after school.  It would surely look lovely by then!  I wasn’t sure I would survive the day.

Despite my wet clothes and frizzy hair, the students were coming. Ready or not.  A cup of coffee did provide a little perk.  Then the music started playing, I started moving, and the kids followed in line.  Whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes-stepping in rhythm, learning patterns, playing instruments.  And that was just the morning!

Afternoon classes were met with high-fives from our new friend Freddie the Frog.  Songs, stories, dancing, coloring, laughing…maybe a little impatient by the last hour, but I had indeed survived.

Although there was that one little friend who decided to say “we aren’t going to miss you” and “please cry” instead of “we are going to miss you” and “please don’t cry” as we sang our “Goodbye Freddie” song.  Maybe he was feeling a little frazzled today too.

Yes, I am tired.  No, I will not be wearing a skirt to school tomorrow. The music will play again, I will move, and the kids will follow. Freddie the Frog will most surely make another appearance.  And all will be ok because…

TOMORROW IS FRIDAY!

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The Innocence of Imagination

We have a new friend in music class this year, and he is making quite a splash!

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This week, my K, 1st, and 2nd-grade classes have been meeting Freddie the Frog.  Freddie is a cute, green hand puppet who lives on Treble Clef Island.  Books, songs, and lessons teaching basic music concepts accompany this sweet puppet.  Even though I am excited about using these new teaching materials, it definitely takes me out of my comfort zone.  Honestly, I had doubts about whether or not the students would buy in, or if I could convincingly utilize a puppet.

First-graders helped ease my uncertainties.  After telling students I wanted to introduce them to a special friend, Freddie suddenly appeared on my arm.  I explained that he was shy, afraid the kids would not like him.  Their sweet faces showed great concern as they quickly reassured Freddie that they did indeed like him.  We then learned a new song, and students used animal hand puppets to “sing” their new song to Freddie.  Oh my goodness…what a site!

Almost forgot to mention, I’m the only one who can hear Freddie speak. He whispers in my ear, I relay his messages, and students giggle.

Fast forward…Freddie needed to rest while we listened to a recording of one of his adventures.  On the recording, the students would finally hear Freddie’s voice.  His singing voice is a little silly and high-pitched, and a couple of students chuckled as they listened. Then I overheard one little girl (pointing toward the puppet) say, “Don’t make fun of Freddie.  He can hear us!”

Such innocence and imagination.  And it did not stop there.  A few moments later, as students were gathering supplies to color a picture of Freddie’s room, the same little girl snuck over to where he was resting.  She walked right up to him, serious little face, and said, “I like your room, Freddie.”  Cuteness overload.

As class time was wrapping up there were many questions-can I show Freddie my picture?  Can we tell him goodbye?  Can I give him a hug?  So, Freddie accompanied me to the back of the room and hugged each of his new friends as they walked out the door.

I started thinking…why is it the older we get, the less we use our imaginations in creative ways?  Obviously, we must grow up and be responsible adults.  We are quite capable of conjuring all kinds of “what if” situations, causing much worry and fret.  I’ve certainly been guilty.  Often times we’ve had the experiences to back up our fears.

There is no simple solution to this adulthood dilemma.  Maybe if we took a moment to remember what it was like to be a kid…not an easy task I know.  After all, part of our job as parents and teachers is to help kids cope when bad things do happen.  But wouldn’t it be worth it to experience that innocence of imagination once again?

Even if it was only for five minutes…

Robbing the Cradle

I’m sure you have heard the phrase “robbing the cradle.”  Typically it refers to someone marrying a much younger person.  People have teased me with that old saying upon discovering that I am two years older than my husband.  Of course, he never lets me forget that fact, even though two years hardly qualifies in this case.

On a recent trip to the grocery store, my daughter and I met an older couple.  As the wife turned around from the meat counter, she stumbled but caught herself.  She came to a stop right in front of us.  I asked if she was ok and said something like, “Oh, be careful!”  Very helpful I’m sure, but she smiled and struck up a conversation.

We soon learned that this fashionably dressed, white-haired, make-up wearing woman was ninety-three years old!  She shared her age proudly and thanked us as we commented on how amazing she looked.  Obviously, this woman had some spunk.

As we continued to chat, her husband (I assumed) walked toward us.  When something was mentioned about him watching out for her she laughed and said, “Oh yes he does.  Well, I did rob the cradle.”  Now mind you he was not a spring chicken and walked with a cane, but he had a precious smile.  We chuckled as she shared that she was twelve years older than her husband.  I quickly did the math in my head…so, that makes him eighty-one.

Just when I thought the story was finished, she shared more details.  “I was married to my first husband for seventy years.  And (pointing to her husband) we’ve only been married for three years.”  It took a few minutes for my brain to wrap around what this precious lady was saying.  Seventy years of marriage!  What a story!  I would imagine her current husband also had a story to tell, but he just smiled happily as she told hers.

Later I found myself wishing I could have spent more time with this sweet couple.  Many questions came to my mind.  How old was she when she first married?  What had happened to her husband?  Did she have any children?  How did she meet her current husband?  Answers I guess I will never have.  Unless we happen to run into each other at the grocery store again…you can bet I will be keeping my eyes open.

 

 

 

What’s in a Name?

Names are significant, the first thing to define us as a person. Expectant parents spend much time choosing just the right one. They may choose the name of a relative or close friend.  A name’s meaning may also play a role in their decision making.  No matter their reasoning, the label is given.  And once you have that name, you have an identity…and a way for people to quickly get your attention.

Take for example my husband, Gart.  No, there’s not supposed to be an “h” on the end. And yes, I’m sure his name is not Gary.  He was named after his great grandfather-although there have been some family disagreements about whether the original name was Gart or Garth-but here we are.  He likes to joke about his name.  Things like–third grade was the worst year, that’s when kids learn to rhyme.  Or–trust me, you don’t want to play the name game with a name like Gart.

His name automatically brings a smile or a quizzical look when first heard.  Most people seem unsure.  As if they’re thinking,  “Did I hear that correctly?” or “Do you realize what that rhymes with?”  The answer to both is, “Yes!”  It is an unusual name, requiring a strong personality.  And adding his sense of humor to that strength creates an amazing combination.

From the time we met, Gart has always had the ability to make me laugh.  I remember early in our relationship one particular evening hanging out with friends.  Someone said, “Hey, Gart—tell us that story again about when you were caught in a tornado!”  Well, next thing you know everyone in the room was seated on the floor in front of him, intently listening to his crazy story.  And soon, we were all rolling on the floor, laughing uncontrollably.  It was as if they were hearing this tale for the first time.

After twenty-five years of marriage, he still makes me laugh—almost on a daily basis.  Not that there haven’t been tears, just ask anyone who knows me.  But it is humor that has kept our relationship strong.  Choosing laughter has helped us through some difficult, stressful situations.  And thankfully his sense of humor has been passed on to our children.  They each show it in their own unique way, but its presence is undeniable.

It makes me wonder.  How did growing up with the name Gart affect the person he is today?  Would his personality be the same if his name had been Gary or Garth?  Silly questions I’m sure.  The important thing is I love him and I love his name.  Truth is, it fits him perfectly.

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