use your imagination

(Update: Links to The Little Light House website are fixed!)

I have a few new readers (hi, new readers!) so I will take a minute to explain a bit about The Little Light House and why it is so important to me.

 The Little Light House is a Christian Developmental Center for children with special needs.  Children ages birth through five years receive educational and therapeutic services from certified teachers, licensed therapists and dedicated associate teachers.  I know you already think it sounds amazing, right?  What you should also know is that these services are provided free of charge.  The families do not pay tuition.  Funding for day-to-day operation of LLH is provided by donations from community members, businesses and foundations.  LLH holds 4 major fund-raisers each year.

The Garden Party was held on Saturday.  It’s a beautiful fundraiser that is an amazing excuse to put on a flowery dress, a fancy hat and have brunch with the ladies.  Around 700 women attend each year to support The Little Light House.  There is a silent auction (this year over 350 items!) and a live auction.  I decided the live auction might be one of my very favorite parts of the event.  We have a great auctioneer that volunteers his services.  This year he brought a whole team of spotters and is great at encouraging people to bid on the items.  We had 11 big-ticket items in the live auction this year.  The one that everyone is talking about is the awesome playhouse.  It is a pink playhouse, constructed professionally with electricity inside!  I think they said it was valued at $10,000.  A donor and longtime friend of LLH purchased the playhouse for…$29,000.

And then.

She donated it to our school so that the kids could use it.

Amazing.

Tears sprung to my eyes as the bids kept getting higher and higher.  The fact that someone wants to give $29,000 to support the ministry of The Little Light House is simply wonderful.  And then, she just gave the playhouse back to us.

It’s a great fundraiser, a wonderful and inspiring day.  I’m so blessed to do what I do every day.

(I thought about taking my camera with me, but I forgot it.  I don’t have a fancy shmancy phone with a good camera on it.  You’re gonna have to use your imagination.  But trust me, LLH’s Garden Party is oh, so cool!)

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happier thoughts

Most of you didn’t read the post I wrote last night because I didn’t link it to facebook.  It was a blek kind of post and I didn’t feel like broadcasting it, but feel free to scroll on down if you wanna know what I’m talking about.  I felt like writing, I feel like keeping it public, just didn’t feel like making it so easy to find it.

But tonight I want to write with a whole different tone.  Things to be happy about…

1.  Christmas break–although I will be working some during the break, I am looking forward to having more time to devote to my home and my family during the next three weeks.

2.  The Little Light House–our staff Christmas party was wonderful, full of laughter and a few tears, huge cinnamon rolls and egg casserole made by Mr. Mitchell himself.  Oh yes, and many lovely Christmas sweaters.

3. Old friends–a letter of encouragement and some money for LLH from a friend since kindergarten that I actually haven’t seen in over ten years; quick text messages and hours long phone conversations with the girl I most refer to as my best friend from high school; a good friend from college regularly asking me about our adoption journey and almost including me in her family holiday trip; facebook status updates from school friends–elementary, junior high, high school and college–sharing details of life and praying for one another, too.

4. New friends–a never-ending list of people to meet for coffee or lunch. When I moved here 7  years ago there were about 2 people on that list, now there is hardly time to keep up with everyone.

5. The future–dreaming of decorating a room for my kids, knowing I will tuck little ones into bed next Christmas Eve, and having confidence in the things unseen.

the post that started out serious and ended silly

I would have made it to church tonight if we had started Duncan’s algebra final at 5:30 instead of 6:00.  Because it is an online class, once you start a test you cannot exit until you are finished.  He did the test, I checked it and he made a couple of corrections before submitting it–right at 8:00.  I’m glad he’s finished, and am proud of his A, but rather bummed that I missed mass tonight.

I don’t write often about mass.  I write about observing the sabbath, going to church, lunch with our small group, etc.  But I’m realizing I don’t write much about being Catholic.  For a while I’ve had a the desire to do an in depth study of church doctrine and history.  Perhaps I can write about the things I am learning during my studies.  My husband is a historical guru–of both church and non-church events.  He pours through thick books about the reformation and fathers of the early church.  He reads page after page of historical biographies.  I’m thinking I need to add a little depth to my reading time.

Because I don’t actually know who reads this, maybe I should try to clarify my denominational status.  And maybe that should be saved for another post.  A post dedicated to my testimony of my Christian faith.  Yes. That sounds good.  For another night.  This week.  I promise.  (I think.)

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I’m considering my goals/resolutions for the new year.  I will certainly be addressing the amount of time I spend opposite a screen of any kind.  I will also be addressing the amount of time I spend at the gym (and will even be practicing that one a bit in the next couple of weeks).  I will have goals in other areas, too–nutrition, spiritual, intellectual, social.  What are you planning to accomplish in 2011?

————————in other news—————————–

I need do to a bit of work to prepare for my last three days of teaching before Christmas break.  We’re going to have a birthday party for Jesus!  I’m picturing frosting, sprinkles and Christmas carols with preschoolers.  Fun! On one hand, I can hardly believe we are this far into the school year.  On the other, I can certainly see progress in my little ones–making eye contact and smiling, taking independent steps, talking, following directions, drinking from a straw cup–I’m so proud!

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I haven’t done laundry this weekend, yet.  It’s probably necessary unless I’m going to teach class in a bridesmaid dress tomorrow.

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I haven’t finished Christmas shopping, yet.  It’s probably necessary unless I’m going to give away my bridesmaid dresses as gifts.

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I really do own things other than bridesmaid dresses.

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I have shoes that match.

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I’m signing off now to eat a roll and drink some diet coke while I make some lists.  And maybe a phone call or two.

‘Night!

and in other news

Edited to add:  This post seems a bit boring.  Does that mean my ordinary life is boring?  Or just hard to write about in an interesting way?  Either way, I spiced it up with some pictures.  Hope that’s enough to make you all stick around. 🙂

Because there are other things happening in my life besides sitting around thinking about wall decorations for the girls’ room…

I thought I’d just write about my very normal day.

This is how I looked when I got home at the end of my very normal day. I have no idea how my collar got that way. I have no idea how long it was like that. Classy.

 

I stayed up a little later than I should have last night because I wanted to finish up this post.  My husband didn’t have to go to work today, so he wasn’t hurrying me off to sleep as he often does.  And so it was just about midnight when I changed my 5:00 a.m. alarm to 5:45 a.m.  I don’t actually get out of bed at 5:00 normally, I just pretend like I’m going to.  I’m a snoozer.  Pretty sure it’s in my genes.  I think all of my siblings drive their spouses crazy in this same manner.  So, last night I could actually admit that I wasn’t going to get up at 5 and I changed the alarm.  I still snoozed a few times and got up around 6:10 a.m.

I think I’m going to be totally almost entirely honest in this post and talk about my day.  When I get out of bed every morning, I use my phone to light the way out of my bedroom.  Sometimes this is a safety requirement due to the amount of clothes, bags, shoes, laundry baskets, computer cords, etc. that might be in my path.  This morning it was just convenient.  I did manage to take care of all most of the laundry yesterday so the vast open plain of carpet was there to greet me at the foot of my bed this morning.  I always go straight to the bathroom when I wake up and it feels really weird if I don’t.  Nowadays, I take my phone with me.  It’s a dangerous game I play each morning as I stumble eyes half-open, bright, environmental fluorescent lights shining in my face, into the bathroom where I flip the seat down (it is always up) with the hand that is also holding my phone.  Pretty much every morning I think, “Maybe it’s not such a good idea to be holding my phone over the toilet when my motor skills are not quite awake yet.”  But so far, so good.  I check blogs, check email, check facebook.  Yep, still in the bathroom. My iPhone has offered me such an opportunity to multitask.  I take full advantage of it.

This morning, as on most mornings, I crawled back in bed for another 9 minute cuddle with Rob before I officially start the day.  Today was a bit unique because I actually did get up when the alarm went off again.  I got dressed, packed some leftover chicken and noodles for lunch, loaded up my bag and got in the car a little before 7:00.  I also grabbed a fiber bar, a banana and some ice water for my in-the-car breakfast.  My car didn’t start on the first time.  Or the second.  But the third!  The third time’s a charm, right? No?  Well this morning, the fourth time did wonders–I gave it a little gas while Rob gave it the evil eye. My low fuel light was on so I had to stop and get gas on the way to work.  Not really my favorite thing to do, but I was glad I had time.

It was still mostly dark when I arrived at work.  Thankfully someone else had already arrived and disarmed the building so I could park in the back.  I nearly ran over a lawn guy.  My lights are kinda dim and I’m sure he couldn’t hear me over the leaf blower he was using.  But seriously, there seemed to be about 15 guys in the back of the building cutting grass and blowing leaves and wearing dark-colored clothing.  Let’s get some reflective tape, ok?  The lawn guys are there every Monday morning and it shouldn’t have surprised me to see them, but it did.  I don’t really know the lawn guys.  Lawn men might be the more accurate term.  They seem nice enough.  They do a good job and they always turn off their equipment when I am walking by or they wait until I have passed to mow next to the sidewalk.  So I guess they are lawn gentlemen.

I have to be at work by 7:30 and most days I ride with Rob and/or bring Duncan with me.  On the Duncan days, we don’t usually arrive much before 7:30.  Today I drove by myself and got there with a few extra minutes.  I have a million things to do at work, but not much that can be accomplished in a few minutes.  Still, it’s nice to do a little settling in before the day starts.

Of course it would take forever to talk about all the details of my work day, but I want to share a few highlights.  We start each morning with Flock at 7:30.  It’s a time of sharing, devotion, teaching, prayers, worship, etc.  This morning a staff member shared her testimony.  It’s great to work at a place where everyone is a Christian.  It’s even better to get to know people through the journeys they’ve been through and how God is working in their lives.

Kids arrive between 8:00 and 8:30.  Today I had 8 students because one was out sick.  We had a fun day together.  We’ve been learning about Zacchaeus and focusing on how his life was changed when he decided to follow Jesus.  Today we did a group activity where we pretended to be cleaning Zacchaeus’ house in preparation for a visit from Jesus.  We crumpled paper (fine motor) and threw it into the trash can (gross motor).  We counted the pieces of paper (cognitive) until it was all picked up.  We took turns (social) with the toy vacuum.  We sang a song and made the sound of a vacuum motor (speech) while we cleaned.  We even practiced folding laundry (adaptive) and putting it away.  Monday is our music day and today we had special guests.  Mr. Bob played all sorts of instruments and Miss Kimberly helped us sing songs about animals, wiggles and being happy.  It was a lot of fun!  At 1:30 the kids go home and staff takes a lunch break.

I could have seriously taken a nap, but since a volunteer was cleaning my room for me that might have been a bit awkward.  Besides, it’s nice to sit in the break room with staff and talk about our day. (It’s also nice to sneak a treat from the volunteer snack table! Shhh.  I think the mom who baked the lemon bars read this blog!)

I took my husband’s laptop to work thinking I’d sit at a grown-up sized desk (rather than the child sized desktop) for a change.  I have some paperwork that I need to get done and was planning on being very focused from 2:00-4:00 to see how much I could get accomplished.  Until I remembered was reminded that I had a meeting at 2:00 regarding an upcoming conference that The Little Light House is hosting.  It was a very fine meeting for what will be an amazing conference.  (You should totally come!) However, it put a little damper on my spend all afternoon doing paperwork plans.

When I got off work at 4:00 left work at 4:30, I headed to Michael’s because Calvin needed some paint for a t-shirt he’s making to wear to school tomorrow.  And seriously, Michael’s has some good sales.  I got a good amount of loot for less than $7, and only two of my items were priced over $1.

Next I went to Sam’s, for a long overdue trip.  I had a list.  I mostly stuck to it.  The realization that we have a nearly empty refrigerator/freezer in our unoccupied garage apartment gave me the boldness to buy 4 pounds of sausage, 4 loaves of bread, a frozen lasagna, and an additional very large bag of frozen broccoli.  We’re also well stocked on toilet paper, laundry soap, trash bags and pasta.  I started keeping a few notes in my phone regarding grocery prices.  I like knowing where the best deals are.  Trash bags, laundry soap, milk & eggs should come from Sam’s.  Shampoo and deodorant should come from grocery stores that take coupons.  String cheese and Fiber One bars are still in the research phase.

So…by this time it’s 6:00.  I’m pretty tired and hungry enough to consider a Sam’s pizza slice or other fast food on the way home.  Which is ridiculous because I just spent more than $130 at Sam’s and Rob bought non-Sam’s groceries yesterday.  Tonight was supposed to be Riley’s last JV game, so frozen pizza was on the menu.  The game was canceled, but I didn’t want to cook anything else we don’t like to deviate from the menu so fine dining a la Tony’s it is!  Except that as I walked in the door, the boys were doing the math to figure how just how many pieces they could have–and I was the variable.  So I opted to just have a couple of bites of pizza and make myself a grilled cheese sandwich.

Front right: grilled cheese and potato chips Center: Hershey kiss bag and loose orange covered kisses Center front: carmel candy dish to be used to hold orange candies at a later date Back right: Diet coke on monogrammed washcloth serving as coaster Front left: card on top of magazine on top of birthday box on top of bible on top of missal on top of Beth Moore book

I’ve been in the bedroom ever since: writing this blog, reading blogs, playing on facebook, checking email, talking with Rob, printing a superman Z logo, sorting out chocolate kisses wrapped in orange foil, listening to phone conversations, realizing I forgot to buy the stuff I need for our cooking activity in class tomorrow, eating non-orange wrapped kisses,  drinking diet coke, and figuring out how to make this blog end in a not so boring manner.

back to normal

Perhaps this is the beginning of a “normal” week.  Life should slow down and return to a mildly crazy pace, rather than a goalldayuntilyoudrop pace. 

Things I’ve been doing:
–working my tail off to help The Little Light House win $500,000.  We needed to be in the top 20 to recieve the money, but we finished at 28.  It was a great opportunity for us to share a little bit about our school with others.  We are blessed to have had the opportunity and are excited to see what will come of the contacts we made.  A tiny school for kids with special needs in Oklahoma placed #28 in a nationwide contest for votes, with over 60,000 schools competing.  Not too shabby.

–teaching my new Orange Class!  We started class on Wednesday, Aug 25.  I spent the week and a half prior to that preparing my classroom and meeting with parents.  I’m looking forward to a great year with some really great kids and families.  My class is a little different than usual, because most of my kids are independent walkers…which is awesome!  And it also means I get to teach them how to sit during circle and at snack and lunch.  We are also teaching them how to sit on the floor at story time or at the table during an activity.  Tons of fun…and they are already learning!!  I’m also super excited about the assistive technology we’ll be using to help kids with their communication skills.  You should totally come volunteer in my classroom, it’s the greatest!

–finalizing a few adoption items.  I think it is accurate to say that we have one more step and all of our paperwork will be turned in to our caseworker.  And then we wait…and pray for God’s intervention for the perfect placement for us and for the kids.

–playing a minimal part in the homeschooling of my youngest stepson.  My husband has done an awesome job of kickstarting the school year with Duncan.  I’m looking forward to a more active role in his education.

–camping with my sister and her family in our backyard.  It was a beautiful night to spend outdoors, perfect end to a week with too many hours spent indoors and online.  My other sister and her family came over for dinner.  Her hubby had to go out and fight crime all night and so they opted not to sleep over.  Plus, my older brother came by for a beer and a visit…topping off all of my in-state siblings!  It was great to have them over for a bit.  And we’re all totally looking forward to the week when all 6 of us will be in the same state at the same time…coming soon!

–sleeping on the couch a large part of today.  Yes, the breakfast dishes are still on the table.  The dishwasher is full of clean dishes and the clothesline hangs empty.  Fortunately, my out-of-the-house job gave me Monday off, so I have plenty of time to work on my house.

So glad to be back dear readers…I like sharing life with you.

Today I’m Thankful…

for an air conditioned vehicle.

for a husband that loves me enough to go with me to an informational meeting about delivering phonebooks and wise enough to say we’re too busy to add on that kind of extra job right now.

for a year-round school schedule that gives me time off to relax with my friends and family.

for that same school that gives me 7 professional work days before kids come back, so I didn’t panic when I finally took my school bag out of my car today and realized the pile of work I thought I might look at during break.

that we have only two more Saturdays of adoption classes!

that 2 of my 5 siblings live within 30 minutes of me, making it easy to get together during my break.

for the weekly phone schedule we put into action about 5 years ago that keeps the siblings talking on a regular basis.

that for most of this break, my house has been very clean–motivating me to get it in tip top shape before I head back to work on Monday.

that I had an unopened bottle of water in my car to give to the man on the corner, when I really didn’t want to give him any money.

for 99 cent tortilla chips and frozen ground turkey at Aldi.

for the Braum’s giftcard my grandma gave me for my birthday–which we used tonight for a cold treat to reward ourselves for finishing all of our adoption class homework in the hot, sticky house.

for the birthday money and other gift cards I got for my birthday–which have allowed me to go to lunch with my friends and on dates with my husband without wrecking our budget.  And buy some crafty things for gift making and maybe even some new clothes, too!

for a husband that wants me to go to bed at the same time he does.

Good night.