Sunday, June 29, 2014

Anxiously Waiting to Praying for Another Day

I really do not have much to say. I feel anxious lately. There are so many things that I am waiting on... counting down the days until we close on our new home. Counting down the day until I finish my last class at Tech (November). Counting down the days until I walk across the stage to graduate in May. Counting down the days to start a family. Yet, I am fully aware that I am counting my life away and one day I will beg God for just one more moment with my parents, one more moment with my own children, one more moment. Funny how we anxiously wait for time to pass and then beg God to slow it down at the same time. I hope that after this chapter is over, I can learn to live for the now. I am very excited about being in Monroe. I have enjoyed having the opportunity to live other places, but as the old saying goes... "There is no place like home". I've been blessed with several homes with my husband, at my parents, at Trav's parents, at the Smith/Woodall home. Yet, now that we are moving to Monroe, I can be connected with so many I love, and get to return to the house Trav and I share. :) I'm thankful God is making things fall together. I also have a peace about leaving this home to a very good family. I like to think these walls here in Hodge will host a multitude of happy memories, just the way our new home will for us. It's a family of four (with the fourth being a child on the way). I smile thinking of the life that will be breathed into good ole 2005 Cypress. They are gracious people, even willing to let us live here until our house closes. Moving is rough. Emotionally it is grueling. I run across the most dear things to my heart that I have tucked away and hidden from finding. The memory boxes that grow dust, but beg to opened as you come across them. I sat in the floor crying like a baby while holding my grandfather's obituary the other night. It's funny how easily I have suppressed my grandparents absence, but one piece of paper can make me lose it. My husband was comforting though, and I am thankful he just lets me be an emotional woman. Then there was the old picture boxes of mine and Trav's that are so hard to face. It holds our past and I refuse to let either of us trash the old pictures that shaped us to who we are, but man oh man those things are getting put in the attic. I do not like knowing Travis ever dated anyone else, but dear old me! So we put a little duct tape on those memory books. :) My sister is expecting. Bailey Grace Smith will be the perfect addition. Every girl needs a sister, so glad Gracie will have one that lives with her and shares her deepest darkest secrets and tags along. I feel I'll relate to little Bailey, since I was the younger sibling. HAHA I know Jennifer will teach sweet Gracie all of the ropes of being a big over protective sister. In all honesty though, that baby girl will be our blessing and her personality will flow right along with the rest of my family. I wonder if she will be outgoing like Gracie, or shy? I just know she will be the perfect addition to the family, just wish Jen would let me play a little John Mayer for her while in the ole womb. haha School keeps me busy, I swear chapter guides takes me hours on top of hours. I know it's worth it though, I feel like Tech truly has shaped me to be a better teacher. I also believe that I'll never stop improving and that education lasts a lifetime. I am looking forward to meeting my new class. So far I have met three of my twenty, and I am pleased to say all three of those little pupils are just darling. All very nice parents as well, I am praying that all 17 others seem so eager to play and learn with me. I am also praying for patience and happiness throughout the school year. I want to be one of those teachers that children look back on fondly and I want my students to come out super smart and ahead of the game. Anyways, I guess I should get some sleep. Class tomorrow shall come soon enough. LoVe, Christina

Sunday, June 1, 2014

2005 East Cypress

Late summer nights. There is nothing like sitting all alone with one's thoughts and feelings. The wee hours of the night have always belonged to me in the months of late May, June, July, and early August. I'm sitting in our living room that will soon encompass a new family soon and these walls will breathe new life. I'm happy for them, but for now these walls belong to us for just a while longer. :) The memories...those will always be ours. It's amazing I haven't been in Hodge long, but it so quickly became home. I've never thought about it, but our first and only break up and our engagement all occurs about the exact same place in the living room. The tears of sadness and joy have found their way down our cheeks in this home. The steps outside on the porch was where we sat the night we split our (at the time) 3 month relationship. He'll swear he didn't, but he cried right along with me. That porch swing is where I sat to call my mother to share I was engaged. I had never been more excited and felt more complete in my life. My eyes are now flooding as Gracie would say. This neighborhood so quickly became home to a girl who had never left Monroe. I had some really great runs and always enjoyed Jamie's company and talking to the Tidwell's. I also enjoyed visiting with Mr. Louie, God bless his soul. His yard was always winning that great yard award from the town of Hodge. We never stood a chance. I recall many days doing homework with architecture homework spread out on the floor and late night papers to get me through undergrad. Heaven knows grad school has made me cry between these walls. The moments after coming home from our wedding where my husband reassured me while standing in my wedding dress that I was so beautiful, and even the southern classic we went and got because apparently no one warned us that you starve at your own wedding. The countless Saturday mornings laughing and talking together in bed and the McDonald runs. The calling Johnny's pizza to talk to "Tyla" who is beyond the nicest pizza guy ever. "Yo yo this is Tyla". The night the power went out (ok let's be honest it goes out a lot)... But there was that one time with Jennifer where the windows stayed lit up. That and watching Gracie and attacks play with the soccer ball he rolled off the tin roof over and over again. That yard... First one I ever mowed on my own. Also where Travis and I played in the rain and where I forced him to kiss me because I just had to say I had been kissed in the rain. Point is that I'll never be able to recall all of my memories of this house, I never realized how the simple days held so much importance. I'm so thankful to God for our time here. This post won't make much sense to anyone, but Trav and I will one day be thankful I took the time to write about how special our first home together was. Now on to new adventures, hopefully the next home we own will have babies :). --cypress street

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Day In Pre-K

I have never written what my day is like. I figure maybe one day someone will want to be enlightened on my day as a Pre-K Teacher. I walk into my classroom, Mrs. Jenna (the early bird who helps me while I'm driving from Timbaktu) is generally talking to a parent, answering questions about blue jean trips.. you name it.. she's talking to someone about it. I then come in, red faced, place my laptop down, and jump right into the fun. Now many people do not like parents visiting for long, but with children so young in my class I like to form positive relationships with my students' families. I enjoy hearing what's going on at home. Then the bell rings, and Mrs. McComb usually cuts all conversations off by announcing the pledge. The student speaker leads over the intercom as I remind one child to not walk while pledging. Then we say the Lord's prayer. I open one eye when I hear the whisper (that's not so much a whisper). I give the "One eyed open teacher look" that generally makes the kid immediately clap their hands together in prayer. The children then transition to my whole group rug where one child has to run up and share her latest drawing yelling, "Miss Is-Is-Is-Tina." My name for most of the class, is always a work in progress. :) I could go by my last name next year, but hearing them stumble over my long name is always too too cute.

I then do our own classroom prayer where a student recites with the class (independently at this point): "Dear God, thank you for today, thank you for our families, our teachers, and our friends, help us remember to obey and keep us safe. In Jesus name we pray, Amen... God bless you. (They added the God bless you on their own). Then we go on to do calendar where a child becomes the teacher and uses the pointer to count every single number. Teaching them this once made me exhausted, now they glide with ease through the days of the week and months of the year song. Then the "meteorologist" comes up to check the weather, heaven forbid if I slip and call it a "Weather Helper" ... that would be "Such a baby word!" (Or so they are quick to remind me). My weather helper comes up and we sing our song. I explain that even on a completely cloudy day, we don't consider it sunny... which makes NO sense to them.. after all it's day time. This argument will continue I'm sure until they are gone from my class. :) Then I teach. I allow my students to join in on my conversations, because I have learned they really like just being apart of the mix. They have become more comfortable with asking me questions, and I often learn how smart they already are. (One child boasted about honey drinking nectar the other day, as I almost fell out of my chair in an amazement that I haven't even taught this yet). Lesson only lasts about 20 minutes, but I swear with four year olds, it's like a decade. By the 15 minute mark, one is generally trying to eat something off of the rug or trying to catch the dust bunny they see trickling in the sunlight. I stop, make them all wiggle, and try to manage to get through the last 5 minutes of lesson. I guess it's working, because my class has shown tremendous growth.

Then it is centers. Ohhhhh Centers. It's their FAVORITE time of day and it is actually quite beneficial as Mrs. Jenna and I float around, playing with them, acting things out, etc... I've been known to put on a wig or two. Art and reading is where I tend to flock, but I force myself to go to blocks when I hear cries of "YOU KNOCKED MY HOUSE DOWN! I NOT YOU BEST FRIEND NO MORE." I generally resolve it by having them talk about it. If not, I randomly begin building a house and ask for help, they are all so eager to help that their attention goes on me forgetting that "They are not best fwiends anymore." Oh, if only adults could get over their issues so quickly. What is it about adults tends to fixate on quirks in friendships, but kids just let it go. I am trying to adopt moving on quickly. I won't tell people, "You can't be my best fwiend no more" though. I imagine they would look at me like I was cray. Jenna generally reminds our sand table to keep it over the table, someone asks me if they can go to playdough (which is always open?), and one kid generally makes me a sand birthday cake at least once a day. I blow out seashells people. Seashells... and guess what it... and I think that's why I have a birthday party thrown by the kids daily. Today, I turned "6" according to the shell. Centers comes to an end, with the Jamaica-me-wanna-go-crazy clean up song. Most of my children bustle like ants to clean up, some beg to use baby wipes to wipe the table, and the block battle begins. The boys continue to race their hotwheels over their every-block-in-block-center-used-roads as I warn them that they HAVE to clean up. I hear a sigh, "Mrs. Christina, they aren't cleaning up." I arise to the battle praising those that are cleaning with talon tickets (our reward money). I hear from blocks students, "Why I no get a talon ticket?" You have to clean. They finally begin cleaning, while scowling at me, they get over it quickly though as we count backwards to officially end centers. I then sing, "I'm looking for a kid, that's sitting real nice, I'm going to close my eyes, can I open them twice?" They all yell "NO WAY!" Then I cast my magical teacher spell and say, "Ickity bipity boppity boo! I'll make a quiet kid out of you!" The room goes silent. It's the first time I've heard silence all morning. It is the most precious 3 seconds of my morning. Then someone bellows out, "I gotta pee!!!!"

Following the same routine, we line up for the restroom. I repeat, do not play, flush potties, wash hands, only three at a time, I'll be checking. They potty, with the occasional, "I said don't play!" having to be thrown in. Children really look like they are true blown felons if you catch them in the act of trying to crawl under a stall. I remind another that germie has to be flushed. I feel relieved when all 20 of the students have made it back into the classroom for small groups. They walk slow balancing on the duct tape I put down to help teach them how to form a straight line. I take deep breaths as they SLOWLY "walk the plank" They then say, "What we doing now?" When the class mini teacher announces, "Duhhhh small groups." We pair off into our groups, diving into a world of position words, letters, measurement, you think it... we do it. By the time the second group gets to us... you guessed it, their attention span for that 30 minutes is gone. I breathe relief for sunny days where a quick 10 minute recess allows them to run free. The students pick us weeds "flowers" and say, "LOOOOOK! THIS ONE IS WHITE!" Every. time. they get so excited... about the same flower they have found us for 2 weeks... and every. time. I feel special that they think enough of us to pick us flowers... even after I wouldn't let them play in the bathroom sink! We then line up for lunch, a kid asks, "Where are we going?!" The mini teacher again says, "Duh! Lunch!" I hear "YAY!! YUMMY YUMMY!" We line up for the what seems to be the mile long walk to the cafeteria, as we try to spy the Easter bunny or play invisible. I know ways to make kids be quiet. Today, the Easter bunny spied us where he was in the woods. They were super quiet. :)

Lunch comes and goes with the same one reminding me that they only drink white milk. Today someone again told me chocolate milk comes from chocolate cows, I remind them that this is not so. Someone generally spills their milk, someone generally refuses to eat, and someone generally tells me something about them getting married to a second grader. It's fun. I learn a lot about their home lives at lunch too, but generally nothing bad. They just remind me that I need to learn to hog hunt and that I need to carry a knife. One tells me that they'll bring me one, and I kindly remind them to not play with knives and forbid them to bring me one to school.. they aren't allowed. They remind me that we use one to cut their oranges in half at snack. I remind them that it stays locked and the tippy top of a shelf. We line up, as one begs to go to the gym. When I say yes, I am a hero. When I say, we don't have time.. I'm a zero. We go to the gym most days, but days like today we go straight to letter review and story time. Today they told their own story, about a cow... who went to the fair... met a clown who juggled three apples, fell into the water, got wet, and chased buttercup (the cow) all the way home. It was riveting, but so so good for their imaginations. Letter review was like pulling teeth, the kids seemed sleepy, as I reminded them that the letter b had a belly. I was interrupted to be told that the letter d had a "hiney".

Then we play another 20 minutes outside (we get 50 minutes a day with pre-k). The kids run like I've held them prisoner all day. They find every mud hole that I dared them to go near. They pick every weed on the playground. Sometimes, I act as if I am Frankenstein (per their request) and we play freeze tag. Today, I sit and watch, as the kids I've been with all year play. I watch them squabble and work it out by themselves. I smile knowing I taught them to control their emotions. The world feels right. Then we potty and nap. The children take their precious time getting their blankets out, carrying the clear bucket on their head, Mrs. Jenna and I tell them to put it up, they do... 5 minutes later. Then their is silence... besides Jenna and I quietly laughing about whatever HILARIOUS things we've heard or seen for the day and the occasional... "Please be quiet" is reminded. The snores begin. I breathe a sigh of relief. We've all made it to nap... alive..

Nap goes quicker than you could imagine, as I try to juggle lesson plans, newsletters, progress reports, and portfolios. The children wake grumpily, I have to stand one on her feet 5 times...only to find her laying on the floor hidden in dramatic play 1 minute later. We put our blankets and stuffed animals away and quickly go line up for snack and potty. Someone boasts about their Kit-Kat and Oreos as other get excited when I say the cafeteria gave us cookies. We go back outside for our "picnics" and to play. I tie someone's shoe. I tell them about selling raffle tickets to get enough money for water slides in May. A child reminds me his father HATES the cops giving him tickets, I tell her this kind is different. She reminds me that I did say that they cost money.... As we come back in, we pack our things and generally do centers or the occasional learning songs and music. We close our day with pickups lining up and bus riders staying with Mrs. Jenna. When the last bus rolls off, and all of the goodbye hugs are given.... we. are. exhausted...but in a good way. Jenna and I barely even conversate, sighing that we survived another day in Pre-K. We wouldn't change it for anything in the world. It's the most rewarding job EVER.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Thank God for Ear-Aches

It was a cool October day in 1994, when my sister and I decided to play "The air-plane game" where I sat on her feet and she catapulted me flying through the air. It was a forbidden game, but luckily with mom being at work and dad being entrenched by the Saints football game, we found an opportunity to play. Our playground for our shenanigans was the pale yellow tiled kitchen floor, with its intricate designs of green and orange flowers, just steps from the living room. "Thank God daddy listened to the television so loud"... we giggled, as our game commenced. After all, a second grader and a seventh grader needed to have a little fun, without ALWAYS being told what to do. "I want to go really, really, REALLLLLLY high" I bellowed to my sister, Jennifer. "Oh so super-duper high?" She replied, while lying on her back and positioning her feet to be my "launching pad". I sat on her feet, and said "Remember, super-duper high" and with one quick bend of the knees and push I went flying through the air. I was pretty much an expert; I had landed the jump just as beautifully as Olympic skater soaring through the air a dozen times before. However, that day, I did not land on my feet, like the expert I was. That day, I landed on my head. I woke up in my brother’s lap, screaming and crying, who knew if I cried while I was blacked out? Tears poured down my face fast and steady as I grabbed the left side of my skull. It was the worse pain I had ever been in and all I wanted was my mother. The blur of hospitals being called, my mother arriving, and the trip to the hospital all mixes together. I remember sitting in my mother’s lap with my head buried into her chest and her arms around me. The light blue Ford Aero-star minivan went flying around the curves of Finx-Hideaway. "Mack, go faster! Oh God, she's bleeding from her ear, it's a lot. Lord be with us, she cried". We arrived at North Monroe Hospital and mother ran as she carried me in. I was immediately taken back to see a doctor. After looking me over, Dr. Borden, a doctor with fiery red hair told my mother that "I was fine". I simply needed to clean my ear out with Q-tips and be put in bed for my "bump" on my head. My mother told him that was not a good enough answer because I was not a whiny child who let out blood curdling screams for no reason. My mother followed him to her office, where he had his feet kicked up drinking coffee. She yelled, "You will run tests on my baby, because if God forbid we lose her, I will sue you for every dime you are worth". He reluctantly ordered a CAT scan on my head. I was immediately wheeled to a room where they made me lie in weird machines. It looked like something from an alien movie to me. The rooms were white as snow, and as a seven year old I was terrified. I was also hurting. The nice man would comfort me saying, "Doing great, sweetie. Try not to move, darlin'". The truth is I did not want to move, I wanted to sleep. As I got back to the curtain-made E.R. I tried to sleep, but my mom kept making me talk to her. I begged for sleep, but she said she did not feel safe with me doing so. The Dr. then ripped open the curtain to tell my mother we had to get me transferred to Glenwood Hospital immediately. I had bleeding on my brain, and my skull was fractured. People ran. I cried as I was loaded onto an ambulance. Mom held my hand, and rubbed my forehead, saying, "Oh sweetie, my sweetie, hang on". The paramedic yelled, "We are losing her, hit the lights". I understood, even at that young age, that I was on the verge of dying. My mom prayed out loud. As I arrived to Glenwood, a team of doctors evaluated me. Several people asked me questions like, "Is it day time or night time? Do you know your name?" and my ear-nose-and throat doctor, Dr. Danna put a tube in my ear to suck up all of the blood. He explained to my mother, that my tubes that he had placed in my ear two years ago, that should have already came out on their own, were the only thing keeping me alive. The tubes treated the blood on my brain as fluid, and forced it to drain out my ear. My ear infections as a child eventually became my life-line. The days at the hospital were long and I spent most of it lying in bed, watching the Wal-Mart in West Monroe being built with my mother. There were whispers in the hallway, and a lot of tears, and the family was called in to say their goodbyes to me. My mother refused. She and my family hit surrounded my metal hospital bed and prayed out loud, "Lord, please heal her, they cried”. My mother even offered God to take her instead, anything but her baby. The next day, as brain surgery was scheduled, I was beginning to heal. The swelling had miraculously gone down and they did not have to perform the surgery and did not have to shave my luxurious long brown locks of hair. The doctors said they had never seen anything like it. Three days later, after a two week stay, I was allowed to return home. My mother was told that I likely damaged a part of my brain, and I may not make it past a fourth grade level. My mother refused to believe that, and I did too. I did make it past fourth grade, and in fact made it through most of high school and college with a 4.0 GPA. I survived. To close my horrific narrative, I have often used this as a lesson in life into God's reasoning. I am sure the ear-aches and the surgery for tubes did not seem ideal at the time for my parents or me, but in fact they were a vital part to my survival in the future. Those two thousand dollar tubes saved me. God may make some things in life uncomfortable to prepare you for something bigger in the future. I am so thankful for His grace on me, and I have often found the strength I received from Him and my family at that time has been my rock to salvation. I learned at the age of seven that there truly was a higher force watching over me. I learned that even the smartest men like doctors, could not predict my destiny. I am thankful for the beautiful life that I have lived. I can only hope that God is proud of what I have made of myself in my second-shot-in-life. Thank God for ear-aches.