Thursday, June 27, 2013

Take Me Out to the Ball Game...(Father's Day 2013)

Before I forget... 

THANKS for all the love you showered me with over my "big news" announcement! You really know how to make a girl feel good! 


On with the Father's Day post!

Every year, the kids and I ask Daddy what he wants for Father's Day. And every year we get the standard...

..."Oh, you know, anything BBQish...or tool-ish (only, I really need to buy that myself b/c I know exactly the brand/size/type that I want)...or a new t-shirt (hubby doesn't wear ties at the fire station)"...

So, the kids and I really brainstormed ideas for a unique gift and we came up with a clever idea!  Tickets to the Kansas City T-Bones, our minor league baseball team.  We went last year with Chris' work for Family Night and had so much fun.  And with Ben's love of T-Ball we thought this was the perfect way to celebrate dad.









Lyrics by Jack Norworth (1908)
"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

(Giant rice krispy baseball treat compliments of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My Big News!!!

A couple of weeks ago, I alluded to some big news to share...

...well the "i"s have been dotted and the "t"s have been background check was completed...and my references were contacted...the official offer was made and accepted THIS MORNING....

...and so...


Five years ago, when I walked out of my Third Grade classroom for the last time, I swore I would never go back to teaching.

I was overwhelmed...and under-supported.  NOT from my school district...and NOT even by my was just the work-family situation was not working for us.

I had a three-year old and a one-year old and a husband who worked all of the time (he still does!).  I have in-laws in KC, but they live over 50 miles away from us...I was using a great in-home daycare, but I still felt that my kids weren't getting what they needed from me...from a couple.

So, I made the decision to walk away from teaching.

Last Day of School in May 2008

I don't regret one single minute of these past 5 years! They've been the best years of my life, including the blessing of another baby!!!  Who would have ever though it!  Getting to be a stay-at-home mom while pregnant and then not having to go back to work after 12-weeks (oh, yes, I do take my full FMLA maternity leave!!!!!!!!!) were experiences that I longed to know and that God blessed me with.

Luke Alexander's First Christmas (December 2010, 5-months)

But the Father...ooooh, the Father knows us so much better than we know ourselves.  And he uses his Holy Spirit to stir awakenings within whisper messages to us...and to place us in situations where we interact with others that can lead to life-changing decisions!!!

Since Mary Catherine was enrolled in Kindergarten I've been that mom!  You know the one...Room Mother...PTO member...classroom volunteer...

When we made the switch from public to parochial school, I really felt called to help out in whatever capacity I was needed.  Sometimes this looked like PTO Officer and volunteer, and other times it was me working the Scholastic Book Fair, putting up teacher bulletin boards, or volunteering in the cafeteria.  And always with my side-kick Luke!  

My husband warned me this would happen...

...he promised me that Tonia, Mary and Benjamin's principal, would call and offer me a job, but I poo-pooed it!

Well, on the first day of Summer Break, I got a phone call from "Catholic School".  Of course, I was still in jammies, lounging around with a cup of coffee, while my kiddos were running through the house beating on each other.  I had no idea when I picked up that phone that my life was about to change!

Seems that the school was looking for a Part-Time Resource Room Specialist (SPED) to work 12-15 hours a week.

I didn't even hesitate to say, "yes".  As in, I hadn't even had a minute to process...or call the hubby...or talk to the kids...

...I just knew that this was an opportunity of a life time and a calling that I was supposed to answer.

I've had stirrings in my heart for some time now to return to the classroom.  But, I feel that family must come first and the expectations of a full-time teaching position were just not right for our little family of five.  Besides, my youngest is only 2-years old!

Still, each time there was an opening for a full-time grade level teacher at the school, my heart would long just the tiniest bit to apply and I would be disappointed that the opportunity was presenting itself now instead of in the future.

But, God is so good...he works situations for our benefit!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted that Luke self-potty-trained.  (Oh, we've had a few bad "accident" days, but seriously...the BOY is still 2!)  Well, potty-training was one of my biggest stressors about accepting this teaching position.  How in the world was I going to enroll my newly-turned 3 year old, (he turns 3 less than 1 month before starting preschool) in a program when he wasn't potty trained.

Well, God took care of that.

Then, when the offer was made, Luke was specifically factored into the formula...meaning...I work when he is in preschool!!!  The school is actually setting up my schedule so that I work with kiddos in the afternoons while Luke is in the 3-year old room.

Oh, did I mention that I'm getting a small (LOL) stipend, but that more importantly we are getting a reduction on tuition for both the elementary and preschool fees????!!!!!


Did I already mention that God is so good????!!!

So, my friends, that is my big news.  I guess I truly didn't realize how much I missed the classroom and working with students.  I've been contemplating a SPED (special education) endorsement to add to my Master's Degree that I earned in 2004.  In order to return to return to work full-time (not in the immediate future) I need to take a minimum of 6 graduate-level hours to re-certify and I've been considering taking special education classes.  Now, I get to actually put into practice (immediately) coursework that I will be taking in the future.

For now, though, we are going to ease into things slowly.  We are going to enjoy the rest of our summer...regroup and get used to mom working outside of the home...and then I will return to Grad School.

Oh...and since before Memorial the hiring process took longer than I thought it would...I've been praying this prayer...

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing;
God only is changeless.
Patience gains all things.
Who has God wants nothing.
God alone suffices.

(St. Teresa's Bookmark)


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Crayola Doesn't Make A Color

Hi there! Hope everyone is doing well and had a great weekend!

I have some catch-up posts to do on how we celebrated Father's Day for Chris (the hubby) and my week teaching VBS, but while perusing blog-land I came across this just speaks to me!

When I think of all my bloggy different we all different our choices are when it comes to educating our children...well, it just proves to me that there isn't a "favorite color" or even ANY one color that can describe the love we feel for each of our own children.

In our box of crayons (educational choices), some of us choose public school while others choose parochial or home school, but regardless of the choice, the underlying basis for the decision is love.  Love takes many different forms and what works for one family does not necessarily work for another.

Anyway, enjoy the video.  These 2nd Grade cuties sure deserve a shout out for doing a fantastic job in the video!!!


Friday, June 21, 2013

Start of Summer and Father's Day Weekend

Happy Summer Solstice! It is officially the first day of Summer and really starting to feel like it where I live. We've been enjoying these hot sunny days splashing at the pool and spending the warm, muggy evenings at the ballpark to watch little league.

And although this little one is too young for t-ball, he's all about his St. Louis Cardinal's baseball uniform.  As in Every.Single.Day (with fireman's hat, of course).  (Pictures taken in the daycare room while I taught VBS last week.)

Finally, it got warm enough to go to the public pool.  We just finished up Week 1 of swim lessons and the older two are doing great.  I waited on enrolling Luke.  One is never too young for swim lessons, but for the time slot I had to work with, they didn't offer a class for Luke's age group.

Don't let the smile fool you...this one is trouble!  :)

So, in the midst of all the dance recital craziness, it was Father's Day!  How awesome is my dad???Awesome enough to sit through FIFTY dance routines on Father's Day Weekend!  LOL

Here's a pic of the two of us on my wedding day...

To celebrate my dad, the kids and I went with a "Nuts About You" theme.  (My dad loves nuts...always has!)

We purchased a selection of store-bought bags of nuts and then a couple of gourmet chocolate/nut treats from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.  Yum!  (Gift bag contained peanuts in shell, pistachios, vanilla roasted almonds, chocolate covered raisins, and bear claws (pecan, caramel, chocolate-covered chews).

 Here's a sweet pic of my kiddos and dad... dad isn't the soft, mushy type.  He's not big on emotions and sentimentality, but he truly loves each of his children and grandchildren.

My dad was the grandson of Polish immigrants.  His parents where first generation Americans living and working in Polish ethnic neighborhoods. My grandfather was a tool and die maker with the automotive giant (General Motors) in the Motor City.  My grandmother was a "working mom" owning her own beauty shop (I've got some great memories of spending the day at Grandma's beauty shop!).  My dad watched his parents work hard and save hard...and although my grandfather has been gone for 20 years now, my grandmother is still going strong, living independently at almost-92.

My grandparents knew that education was the key to opportunity and so my dad and his brother were well-educated.  Factory work was hard and my grandparents wanted different opportunities for their sons.  Both boys attended Catholic grade school and all-boy high schools.  Both men went on to be college educated and earned master's degrees.

My father passed on those values to his three children.  He instilled a strong work ethic in each of us.  All three of us kids were afforded a college education...we could be anything we wanted (my own brother followed in my grandfather's footsteps in automotive technology), BUT we had to be college educated.  It was an opportunity and experience that my parents wanted for each of us to have.

But most importantly, my father demonstrated by his actions what loyalty to faith, marriage, and family really means.  My father was active in the Knights of Columbus when I was growing up... he was often an usher at Mass...he was a Scout Leader for my mom and he will celebrate 45 years of marriage this July!  

Thanks Dad for all you've done for our family over the years! I'm so blessed to be your daughter.  I'm so grateful that you've been able to enjoy "retirement" earned it by working so hard for so many years, dedicating your life to public service.

And thanks for sitting through 48 dance routines that didn't feature your granddaughter!  ;)

I love you!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Stepping Out in FRONT of the Camera

...An Open Letter to All Mothers...

Dear Mom Behind the Computer Screen,

How are you?  Long time no see!  Literally.  When was the last time your blog followers/readers saw an updated picture of you?  No, I'm not talking about that fantastic head shot that you use for your "About"/"Welcome" blurb on your blog.  I'm talking about a pic of you with your kids...your spouse...your parents.

If you're anything like me, you avoid the camera because of perceived imperfections.

Oh, sure, I can make all sorts of excuses as to why I'm not in any photos, usually claiming that I'm always the photographer, but in this digital age of camera phones and DSLRs, a mom has to wonder why she doesn't appear in more photos with her loved ones.

As a Catholic mom, I have to ask myself, do I really believe in Psalm 139:14?

I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works!
My very self you know.

Over the weekend, at Mary's recital, my mom offered to take photos of me with Mary...I cringed.

What's the first thing I see when I look at the above pictures... heavy upper arms!

Not even my beautiful daughter...

....just focusing on those awful upper arms.

Oh, and my faded highlights leaving me with dishwater-colored hair.

See what I mean???!!!  It's not a healthy outlook at all...

...but not an entirely inaccurate perception.

My upper arms are heavy...heavy from too much sugar-intake...not enough exercise...from using food as a comforter/friend/stress-reliever, etc.

But instead of focusing on all the negatives, I need to focus on what's right with that photo...

...that my arms can wrap themselves around our darling daughter whose personality shines through her eyes...

...that my arms have THREE kiddos to hug when there were days and YEARS when I thought I would never hold a baby...

...that they are strong enough to carry multiple bags of groceries at one time (so I don't have to make multiple trips to the car!  LOL)

Recently, Chris' cousin posted this article on Facebook. It is such a good read.  It made me cry to think that I avoid taking pictures of myself out of vanity...when the only ones I'm really hurting by denying myself being photographed are my loved ones!

Feeling Too Fat to be Photographed???

So, I'm pledging to be kinder and gentler with myself. For if I truly believe that...

...I am wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works!
My very self you know.

...then my actions must speak louder than words.  I need to begin allowing myself to be photographed and sharing those pictures with my loved ones...and even you, dear blog reader.
We are all fearfully, and wonderfully made.  We are mothers, daughters, sisters.  We are authors in our own right...we are educators of our children.  We have been endowed with certain beautiful feminine traits and we need to lift up and celebrate ourselves and each other!  We need to look and see what our loved ones see in us...
When my mother snapped these pictures, she didn't say..."ooh, you need to hit the gym harder or run a few extra miles this week."  She didn't say, "no more photos for you, until you get that hair highlighted."  
Instead, she saw her precious first-born daughter and oldest child posing with HER first-born and only daughter!
So, I challenge you step out from behind the camera and instead be the subject of the camera for the sake of your loved ones and to prove to God just how much you love what He loves. 
You truly are wonderfully made!!!
Be Blessed,


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Recital 2013 Recap...One Last Post!

One last recital post...I promise!  (This was just such an amazing experience for our sweet girl.)

Mimi and Papa came to Kansas City from St. Louis for the Saturday night performance.  Things were so crazy, including a ferocious thunderstorm that blew in just hours before recital time, that few pictures were captured with Mimi and Papa, but I did get a couple.

Mary Catherine is my parents only granddaughter! Yup, they have 6 grandsons and only 1 granddaughter (and my only daughter!)...needless to say she's a bit doted on.  :)

I also captured a couple cute close-ups...

When it came to food/meal prep this weekend, I really dropped the ball.  (Next year, I'll know to prep for meals a week ahead of time...with rehearsals starting on Thursday night and t-ball games too, I just couldn't get it all done.

Fortunately, a few good restaurants, old-fashioned scrambled eggs with sausage crumbles and bagels, along with Wal-Mart cupcakes saved the day.  They even had cupcakes to go along with the Color Fusion theme!

This was the first year that the dance academy gave out medals on Sunday afternoon after the final performance.  I captured a couple pics of Mary receiving her medal from her dance instructor, Ms. Amanda.

Flowers from Daddy and her brothers...

...and finally, a few candid shots at the end of a very long weekend.  I just love this girl...she's so laid back, easy-going, silly!  Everything I'm not...and her daddy is!

And that was our Recital Weekend! Already looking forward to 2014!!!  Be sure to come back tomorrow as I have a great link to share with you all regarding photographing ourselves with our children/families (something I rarely do!).