Thursday, November 17, 2016

SO Grateful!



Between my four fabulous kiddos there are a total of about 20-25 teachers who work incredibly hard every single day to help them learn, grow, and develop!  I really wish I could tell them THANK YOU verbally and in tangible form every single day.

I feel so grateful and blessed that each of my children have adults who are capturing their hearts, making educationally sound decisions, and challenging them to reach their true potential.  It's NOT easy to be a teacher.  Let me say that again.  It's NOT easy to be a teacher.  It is demanding, strenuous, overwhelming, and the list can go on and on and on.  Teaching is simply not for the faint of heart.

However, it's also one of the most rewarding jobs (if not the most rewarding) in the universe.  When I was teaching it seemed like the breaks with my family arrived at just the right time!  While I loved being in the classroom, spending time on breaks to renew my energy helped me to continue on the journey!  I'm wishing all the teachers out there a very Happy Thanksgiving.  I hope you have a full week of relaxation, rest, delicious food, and time for yourself!  Hang in there. . .just one more day!


Friday, August 19, 2016

Broken Hearted

Last Sunday afternoon I woke up from a pretty good nap, FaceTimed with my mom and dad, and rushed off to Staples to pick up a new Erin Condren planner that I ordered Saturday night.  I happily began using my sticky notes, sharpies, stickers, decorative tape, and planner supplies to map out the week ahead.  I had clients lined up, a few errands to run for the kids, and an exciting tiny tot triathalon was scheduled for both of my youngest sons.  Less than 12 hours later, instead of reviewing what I had written and thinking about the plans for the week, I simply turned the page to the next week.  No matter how many plans you or I make, God is absolutely in control.  His ways are not our ways so sometimes we yield to His plans knowing that what He has for us is best.  Even in the midst of tough situations, I know that God loves me and His presence is with me.  

In the middle of the night-early Monday morning (around 2 a.m. we got several phone calls from my mom) and my dad passed away.  I didn't go back to sleep.  I couldn't.  The shocking news in combination with my already crazy sleep patterns due to pregnancy just kept me wide awake.  I am still in shock.  I am still not ready to do what must be done during the next few days.  I am still a little bit scared, confused, mad, and overwhelmed all at the same time.  Reflection time with God (most of all), writing, and praise and worship music have been my saving grace.






















My heart breaks mostly for my mom and my grandmother.  My heart breaks for my oldest son who loved to play checkers with my dad.  How I wish they had played just one more game while dad was in the hospital.  My heart breaks for my sweet baby girl who knows and recognizes her papa's picture right now, but will probably not have memories of the amazing grandfather that my dad was.  When Mr. Perry explained the situation to my boys, my youngest son said, "That is a very sad kind of news. Does that mean papa is in heaven?"  This brought sadness and joy to my heart all at once.  What a precious revelation for a four year old to realize that someone he loved so dearly was now with Jesus.

I spent just over 34 years with my dad (34 years and 2 months-exactly).  Praise God for that extra year and 2 months. They were a gift.  That's a little more than the same amount of time that Jesus walked the earth and taught.  I'm not saying that my dad was Jesus.  Please don't think I'm making that statement. I will say that right about now I'm wishing he wasn't so great of a teacher.  I wish he hadn't shared quite as much wisdom with me, my siblings, and others just yet.  I wish there was just a little longer to learn, to observe, and to ask questions.  My heart longs to have just one more conversation.  To ask just one more question about design or business or parenthood.  It would be worth all the money in the world.

So what have I learned?  What am I learning?  I'm not exactly sure right now.  I think I'm learning to just sit, be still, and listen.  I'm learning that I can't just write down whatever I want in my planner and expect it to happen.  Planning is important (and highly necessary for a large family like mine), but I need to remember that God may have other plans sometimes.  So while I'm sad and grieving the loss of the man who my heart belonged to before Mr. Perry, I have an incredible peace.  I am thankful for many friends who are lifting me up in prayer, and those prayers are needed more now than ever before.  

I am blessed to have so many wonderful memories from my childhood, teenage years, college years, and adulthood with my dad.  There are many people who have never even met their dad, who had a dad who didn't want to develop a relationship, or had a negative relationship with them.  My story is quite different.  I had a dad who told me I was pretty, smart, and valuable.  I had a dad who treated my mom with love and respect.  I had a dad who was the best grandpa ever.  I had a dad who could build anything.  I had a dad who worked hard every single day.  I had a dad who gave so much of himself and invested his life into living a life that reflects the beauty of Christ.  While my heart aches tremendously right now, I know that with time, prayer, and God's love it will heal.  I have joy and peace most of all because I know that today my dad's heart is completely healed, whole, and perfect.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

All Mixed Up


School is less than three weeks away, and normally right about now I'd be setting up a new classroom, creating documents, reading zillions of teacher blogs, perusing Pinterest, shopping on TPT, and attending back to school faculty meetings/professional development activities (while simultaneously caring for my four little ones, managing a home, and thanking God for sanity in the midst of it all)! However, this year is a whole new story.  It's different, and right now (to be completely honest), I have mixed emotions.  Many questions have flooded my mind.  Will I ever teach again?  What if I desperately want to teach, but I'm so far out of the loop that no one wants to hire me?  How long will I be out of the classroom/education realm?  

Part of me is relieved, calm, and delighted that I still get to take a nap every day (and use the bathroom as needed)!  On the other hand, part of me is uncomfortable. Unsure. Uneasy.  And a bit unsettled.  You have to understand how much I LOVE teaching.  If you know me or you've stepped into my classroom before you know how much I LOVE books, literacy, and designing spaces (www.epicspacedesign.com)!   I love integrating subject areas.  I love research projects and technology integration.  I am the definition of "a teacher nerd."  I bought and read books about reading strategies this summer even though I knew I wouldn't be teaching.  I love guided reading and guided math.  I really really love writer's workshop!  Teaching is my passion, but this is the first time in about twelve years that I'm not "the teacher." I'm not the one that students or parents are coming to visit on meet the teacher night, and I'm not the one who's getting ready to embark on a brand new journey with 22 precious sweet new faces!  I think primary teachers have the best job ever!  It probably sounds crazy to think that I may slightly truly miss the chaotic rush of back to school madness. The past two years of teaching for me have been joyous and memorable in many ways, but I'm also stepping away from teaching because it's time. The past two years have also been two of the most stressful and overwhelming times of my life.  Twelve years ago if you had asked me about my career path, I'm sure I would have said, "I'll teach for at least 25-30 years straight!"  Easier said than done.  Looking back, I think about all of the early morning arrivals, the late late late school nights (leaving the building as late as 8 or 9 p.m.), and the numerous times when I told my kids (while grading papers, entering data, or working on a report) "not right now, just a minute."  All of these tasks are important.  They must be done, but they can take up a large portion of time.  I don't regret being a teacher at all (or the hard work that I did for my students), but I certainly do regret those times that I should have been more present for them.  Teaching demands excellence, time, and precision.  So I did what I needed to do in order to be excellent and to help my students achieve.  Raz-Kids, PBS Kids, and educational apps on the iPad are awesome, but they are no replacement for me.  There are many teachers/teacher-moms/teacher-dads who have such a brilliant way of balancing their school work with family and personal time.  My hat goes off to them, and I think they're incredible!  The balance for me has always been challenging, but I vividly remember Mr. Perry telling me during the 2015-2016 school year, "When you're more stressed, we're all stressed."  It was at that point, I knew that something had to change.     

With all of that being said, I'm sure you're saying. . .this is so simple Brooke, "Get over it! Get yourself together! Just enjoy your time, sit back, rest, take it easy, and relax!" This too is easier said than done.  Don't get me wrong, I adore my children.  I'm looking forward to cooking a "real breakfast" every morning most of the time, to spending quality time in the afternoon with my children, and to getting every bit of worth out of the sliding doors on my mini-van during drop off and pick up!  My oldest son is so excited because for the first time in the history of his education he gets to be a "car rider" every single day! Yesterday while I was completing some registration forms for the new school year I pointed out to my four year old a sign that said "pre-k pick up," and I explained to him that I'll come after school each afternoon to pick him up at that space while he waits with his teachers and his friends.  He can't wait for pre-k, and his eyes were filled with wonder and amazement when we walked into the building (for the first time ever).  I think the most uncomfortable part for me right now is that I've always been there. Literally steps away.  Just around the corner.  While I do plan to help out at school as a parent volunteer, it simply won't be the same.  My first grader and pre-k student are also going to a new school this year, and I don't know a single teacher there.  I've heard wonderful things about the school and the teachers, but in the past I knew every single teacher and staff member in the building.

So here's my turning point.  I will not worry or be anxious.  There is a line in my personal faith statement that says, "My attitude and outlook on life are not determined by my situations, surroundings, circumstances, or feelings."  I choose to have faith, to speak confidently over my life, and to experience God's peace in the midst of this time of transition.  Even though I don't necessarily know the teachers, God does.  We've been praying for them all summer long-that their summer break would be a time of renewal, relaxation, and rejuvenation (because my school age children are 3 boys. . .all very intelligent, but definitely 150% boy).  On that note, it's quite o.k. if I'm not with my children because God is with them. We're training our children to be Christ like leaders who are full of the word of God.  I'm trusting that the God that is in them is far greater than anything that I could provide by being down the hall or in an adjacent wing.  Mr. Perry and I also have a challenge for ourselves during this school year.  We intend to bless the socks off of our kids' teachers! We not only want to shower them with gifts and treats throughout the year, but we also want to be a blessing in their lives by keeping them continually lifted in prayer.  We'd love to send words of encouragement, random notes of appreciation, but most of all I hope our children are blessings to their teachers every single day by being respectful leaders with integrity who are willing to do what they can to make their classroom and school a better place.

I know what it is to be a teacher.  I know the countless hours of tireless work and relentless energy that teachers exude.  I am certain that if we choose to be a blessing in the lives of those who are loving on my heartbeats while they're at school, helping our children learn, and impacting them in a tremendous way, this will be the best school year ever.  We're going to keep praying for our teachers, and I'm definitely praying for all of my friends who are still in the trenches.  I'm looking forward to what lies ahead, and each day it becomes more and more clear that I'm on the right path. Who knows I might even be a room mom!