Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Know I'm Not the First...

I know I'm not the first mom in history who had to work full-time outside the home, but it certainly feels that way. For 3 weeks, the only day I've left work before 4:30/5:00 was Dayna's first day of school. Even then, I brought a lot of work home. I don't remember putting in this much "extra" (and also unpaid) time when I was full-time before. I wonder if it is going to end...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dayna's First Day of School

Pretending to sleep for the camera. Notice the sticker she's already put on her hand?
Awake and ready to go
Healthy breakfast to start the day
We all love this outfit
Can she contain the enthusiasm?
Backpack? Check. Lunchbag? Check.
Always Daddy's girl
Wilson girls ready for school
10 minutes until school starts!
Here's her class
She's easy to spot in a crowd.
Looks like she had fun!
Telling Mom all about her first day!

The biggest impression? "I think I'm going to like Mrs. Starns, 'cause she smiles ALL the time!"

Alaina's First Day of School

It's a tradition to take my picture every year on the first day of school. I have no idea why Dan waits to take it until I get home...I usually look pretty beat by then! Enjoy.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I Needed This

This crazy week has overwhelmed me, and it almost won. Then God reminded me:

When you pass through the waters,

I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

Is. 43:2

Thank you, Lord that your Word is living and active. It is timely and timeless.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I've been reading some interesting adoption blogs lately. A common thread I've seen is a discontent (I'd even go so far as to say anger in a lot of cases) of adult adoptees. These issues really stem with a crisis of identity. In no way to I want to discredit real, honest feelings of adoptees. But I must question some of what I have read.

I've seen this angst particularly with cross cultural adoptions. They are angry with their parents for taking them from their culture. I have even (repeatedly) seen comments like "I wish I would have stayed in the orphanage with people who look like me rather than be adopted and taken away from my heritage." I've also seen people make generalized statements that if parents can't put a child in a school with a certain percentage of (whatever ethnicity...I'll say Asian) students, those parents have no business adopting. So...a child is better off in an orphanage than in a small town? I've even seen one (I'm sure well-meaning) adult adoptee twist Scripture and cast curses on those who would "rip a child from his mother's womb."

Are there still problems with adoption? YES. Would a child be best with biological parents? If at all possible (but not necessarily always...look at our foster care system.) But I also know that international adoption today is not like it was 30 years ago.

I really do feel for these adult adoptees who are struggling with identity issues. It makes me a bit anxious for what Dayna will face as an adult. I certainly hope that she won't hate me because we adopted her and brought her to small-town Nebraska.

But then I think...if anyone is searching for their identity outside of Christ, they will always be disappointed. I KNOW that adoption is a good thing. I know that it is a Biblical thing. And if God has orchestrated the hearts of countless officials, sometimes literally moving heaven and earth to unite families, then adoption must be part of His plan for the lives of so many people.

And so I pray for wisdom for myself, and contentment in an identity grounded in Christ for these unhappy people.

Do I have all the answers? Absolutely not. But I'm so glad I know the One who gave us all the answers.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Full Speed Ahead

It has been a crazy, crazy, crazy two weeks. Have I mentioned that it's been crazy? I can't say that we've settled into a full-time routine yet, but I must have the most amazing husband in the world. He hasn't said a word to me about my preoccupations and general distractions since I went back to work. He's quietly made sure dinner gets put on the table and laundry gets done throughout the week. He's kept Dayna entertained and on task when necessary. He's spent his day off setting up my classrooms and sticking velcro on whatever I need velcro stuck on. (Yes, I ended a preposition, that should tell you where my mind is at. Oops...I did it again!)

But school is going well. I have a learning curve in my new building. Little procedural things like how I get copies made, how to procure supplies like a stapler and pencils...these things will take time to navigate. The staff is wonderfully friendly, and I haven't noticed any major student behavior issues. My new building does have a high percentage of non-English speaking students, and I need to learn to SLOW DOWN when I talk. I have always been a fast speaker, and in my attempt to start the year with enthusiasm, I think I've overwhelmed some of my kiddos! My familiar buildings seem to be humming along nicely. However, I'm exhausted and wondering how in the world I'm going to keep up with all my responsibilities.

Keep praying for my priorities and balance. I'm hoping that once I get my feet underneath me, I'll land upright and be able to find that balance.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Using a Ladle

My goal for the summer (and everyday, but particularly this summer) was to be purposeful in my activities and conversations with Dayna. I wanted to establish routines, habits and memories that would help shape Dayna into a future responsible adult.

So I sit here at the computer now, less than an hour before I go to bed before I start the full-time teaching thing in the morning. I've been reflecting all day on how I did with my goals.

Today was one of those days that I never really stopped moving. Dayna and I were up and going by 7:00, had laundry gathered, sorted and started by 7:20 before we took the car to be fixed (again!) We walked home from the mechanic, stopping for a special breakfast on the way. Once home (about 8:15), it was go, go, go. I really was moving nonstop, and yet my house wasn't getting any cleaner. I was getting frustrated, because I really wanted to enjoy Dayna today and give her a little extra attention. But duty was calling, and I had to just keep moving. I ended up talking to both my mother-in-law and my mom this morning, sharing some of my angst at getting things done, but having nothing to show for it.

Well, lunch time came. Dayna has been asking and asking for mac and cheese lately, so I told her we could have that today. I used my handy shortcut (have I mentioned yet the instant hot water dispenser Dan gave me for my birthday? He's really the best husband in the world!) and started with near boiling water. Dayna poured in the noodles and I set the timer. When it was done, I drained the noodles, but Dayna did everything else to prepare our lunch today. While I was flitting around like a whirling dervish trying to get things picked up around the house, I flew back through the kitchen to see Dayna using the wooden spoon to dish the mac and cheese into some plastic bowls. At this moment, it dawned on me to STOP and help Dayna find a better way. I pulled the soup ladle out of the utensil jar. Dayna quickly learned that the ladle is much more effective than the wooden spoon.

And it dawned on me...it's a very little thing, but I taught my daughter how to use a ladle today. Never again will she try to serve mac and cheese (or similar dishes) with a wooden spoon. It's great for stirring, but not for serving. This may not have an eternal impact on my daughter, but the simple act of showing her a better way is one step closer to helping Dayna make a happy home for her family someday.

Have I been purposeful? I have a daughter who wants to help (and is truly helpful). I've seen a better work ethic in both of us. I'm learning to stop what I'm doing (okay, today wasn't the best example) and spend time investing in my daughter. And I've learned to give myself grace when it comes to keeping house. I've thought for years that I must be a lazy person, and I've seen this summer that I've accomplished SO MUCH...and a lot of it has been eternal. Keeping a clean house is being a good steward of what I've been given. But, it's not the most important role in my life.

So...tomorrow starts a new chapter. I'm terrified. But I think I'll be taking a wooden spoon to work with me to remind me when I'm not getting anywhere that there might be a better way. And the answer might be sitting right next to me in the utensil jar.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

With a Little Help from My Friends

I love Dayna's imagination. She asked me yesterday if Silvermist could come over and spend the day once she was done putting the dewdrops on the spider webs. Of course, Silvermist is always such a perfect guest, I couldn't refuse. And she and Dayna get along so nicely.

Well, it was time for Dayna to do her chore, which was folding her basket of laundry. Dayna, like many five-year-olds, has a habit of stalling and not completing her work in a timely manner. She asked yesterday if Silvermist could help her fold the clothes. I told her I thought that would probably be okay.

In twenty minute's time, Dayna had her basket folded! She informed me that work always goes faster when Silvermist helps.

I wish I had an imaginary friend to help me get the housework done faster. Fairy friends...where are you?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Students Are Gifts

I confess...I'm not sure I'm ready to go back to work this week. This has been a struggle for several months as I've waited to go full-time. The pressure is starting to build and my attitude needs to be checked.

Today, I received my summer letter from the school where I have the least teaching time (only 3 classes a week.) I'm not really known at this school, and yet the principal took the time to add a handwritten message personally telling me she was glad I was returning. She enclosed the following excerpt, from Joe Martin's book "Good Teachers Never Quit."

Students Are Gifts

At my school, students are God's gifts to me. They are already wrapped, some beautifully and others less attractively. Some have been mishandled in the mail; others come "Special Delivery." Some are loosely wrapped, and others are tightly enclosed.

But the wrapping is not the gift, and this is important. It is so easy to make a mistake in this regard, to judge the contents of the gift by the wrapping paper.

Sometimes the gift (the student) is opened very easily; sometimes the help of others is needed. And maybe it's because they are afraid to be opened. Maybe they have been opened before, and because the last person didn't value them, they don't want to be opened again. It could be that when they were opened before, they were discarded and thrown away. They may now feel more like "things" instead of human beings.

At my school, just like my students, I too am a gift to be shared. God filled me with a goodness that is only mine. And sometimes even I'm afraid to look inside my own wrappings. Maybe I'm afraid I would be disappointed. Maybe I don't trust my own contents. Or maybe I've never really accepted the gift that I am.

Every meeting with my students is an exchange of gifts and an opportunity to share. I'm a gift; they are gifts. We are gifts to each other.

Monday, August 2, 2010

New Clothes

Dayna is just a *little* excited about her new school clothes!