Tuesday, May 17, 2016

"This is your only chance to be famous..."

One afternoon in early February as the school day was ending, I reached for my phone to see if my parents had arrived safely into town.  Instead of a text from them, I read the staggering words that Bev Bos had died. I reread them not believing, and a lump built in my throat. A mentor, a dear friend, someone who was always there for us, and always made us feel important, was gone forever...it just didn't seem real. It still doesn't.

The next day I walked into our school office hiding my emotions, and heard that I had been chosen as our school's teacher of the year. For various reasons it all seemed unimportant. I tried to process the idea of this award and the death of someone so dear to my heart. Someone who taught me so much, and helped me become a stronger teacher and parent. I felt an emptiness and a strong desire to make her proud.

A while passed and the award was announced at a staff meeting.  I wanted the attention to go away quickly.  I smiled said thanks and we moved on. More time went by and I had to have my picture taken.  Then I put it aside again or so I thought.  Somewhere in the background this award started pushing me in a way unknown to me at the time.  I began to reflect more on things I learned from Bev. Things that were said at her memorial. Things that echoed in my head. I thought about things I used to do when I first started teaching.  I uncovered pieces that I loved most.  I wanted to live them again.  I wanted to bring them to life. Perhaps in some way I wanted to make sure that if I was to earn this award I wanted to make sure I truly did.

Time passed and May arrived and last night I attended the Teacher of the Year Recognition Dinner.  At a friend's birthday brunch on Sunday, Josh told people about the award. The night before that at his concert my mother-in-law said she didn't even know I had received it.  I hadn't really told people. I don't know why. Maybe it wasn't about the award.  To me that wasn't the important part.

The day of the dinner and celebration my uncomfortable feelings had me wishing I didn't have to go. We arrived and I was so nervous and uncomfortable. It is not like receiving a rowing award. In rowing, you work so hard to the point of exhaustion just like in teaching, yet you have your crew. You are not alone.  You row to the awards dock with them.  You get out, you join hands with these people that have helped you become a better you. These people who have helped you see that you have more to give than you originally thought you could.  It is more than just you.

In rowing there is more than just you. It can't be done with just you.  You have to bring your best self, you have to face your fears that your best might not bring you across the finish line first. Your best is going to hurt at times, and also be the most amazing ride. Your team, your coach, your cheering section...you wouldn't be at that awards dock without them.  You wouldn't be your best self without them. The same is true in teaching.

When I chose to leave competitive rowing I met with the national team coach. He told me, "Lady, this is your only chance to be famous."  I don't remember all we said to each other that day, but I do remember that, and how it made me feel. I never went through all that to be famous. It was my love for being a part of such amazing teams.  I knew then and I have never regretted my decision. I knew I was ready to move onto my life as a teacher. I had learned all I needed for myself as a rower.

The more I teach, the more I learn how important the sport of rowing was for me. I didn't row to "become famous". I rowed for much more selfish reasons. I loved how it made me feel. It gave me strength (physical and emotional), determination, perseverance, and the deepest understanding of the importance of being a valuable member of a team. The friendships you build in that are long-lasting. For all this I am grateful and would never trade that in for fame.

The other day one of my students responded when I asked what they learned most about themselves through our collaborative science team work. He said so profoundly, "I always thought I worked best by myself, but working with all of this, I learned that sometimes you can get so much more done in a shorter time if you have a good team. I don't teach to be famous and receive awards. I teach because even though at times the job can be grueling, it also has such beauty.

I wavered back and forth about posting and sharing about my award last night.  I didn't attend that dinner to be famous.  I was sweating and uncomfortable and feeling super awkward until it was over. But somehow, while we were waiting our turn to be introduced and the woman next to me kept telling me how proud of us and excited she was, I couldn't help but wonder why I didn't feel that giddy about it all too. I suppose I wanted my crew.  I wanted to be there with my team.  There is that saying "It Takes a Village..." because really there is no way someone can do this teaching gig alone. After I survived walking across the stage towering over everyone I shook hands with, Josh and I headed out of the event.  He later wrote a post about it all with his perfect blend of love and humor. I decided to share as well and I will say that reading through all the comments and posts shared with me this last day has filled me with an overwhelming amount of love, gratitude, and inspiration to push myself to grow even more. If only we could all come together and have a grand party. Oh the fun we would all have! In the meantime thanks for being my team.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas in Idaho Part 4 ~ Morphing into Happy New Year in Idaho

So this morning it hit me, like the feeling of reading a really great book.  I press on because I can't bear to put it down, but I fear the end is near.  Endings are hard. I want to get there and see how things play out, but then it ends. Endings...they make me feel the lump in my throat that I don't want around just yet. They make me sad when I just want to keep enjoying and feeling like the week is ahead and filled with possibilities. That lump that built as we chatted over breakfast about our upcoming day's plans and those of tomorrow. I fought it off, and then I saw it leap from me onto him and I pulled him near and hugged him.  She said, "Why are you already sad? We aren't leaving yet?" She knows him well.  

For her it's different. For her she really is like Dorothy in those Ruby Slippers, "There's no place like home." She finds it hard to leave at the front end of the trip, yet eager and ready for adventure.  She smiles when there is mention of returning home and packing and such. It's not that she is not happy here, but it is like that very favorite book you want to read again and again. You know it, find comfort in the expected, yet with each read you somehow uncover something new that you missed before and it is that bit that keeps you coming back for more. 

She doesn't want to dress in the "poofy" snow clothes and go out when there are plenty of new clothes and boots to wear inside the house and lots of room to dance around. Yet the adventures that await outside tug at her and she can be persuaded to look poofy because a fast speed sled awaits her at the top of the hill and the creek and "little woods" are calling her name. 5 degrees won't stop her. 

He presses on eager to see how things play out. Living all the bits as lively as he can, trying to forget that the last chapter is here. And with that we have arrived at New Year's Eve. There are some plans, some exploring to do, some memories to make.  I will ignore that lump in my throat and see how things play out. 

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas in Idaho Part 3

On the airplane they always remind you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.  Apparently this is also true for packing snow coats and gear for going ice skating on the coldest day yet. 

Yesterday my cousin came over with her family to go sledding and after unloading all their gear they realized they had left their son's snow coat at home.  We loaned them one of Ellie's hoodies and made it work and there were many fun trips down the hill. We shared our sleds and they shared their new snowboard and "snow mobile" and many good times were had before tiring out and returning inside for hot cocoa. 

Blast off!

No one stopped long enough for a photo...action shots only zone!

Off they go

Jump launching is my favorite

Sledding the day before in the falling snow!

Today we agreed to meet up again at the skating rink in Moscow and knowing the temperatures were dropping I decided to pack our suitcase with ALL of our snow gear to make certain we could skate as long as we wanted without getting too cold. I even packed extra socks and outfits just in case we wanted to change after.  Thinking I was oh so prepared, I loaded up the trunk and ran back in the house to leave my dad the truck keys.  I was already cold and my hands hurt, but I didn't want to be too hot in the half hour drive into town, so I just jumped in and off we went.  Halfway to town I realized I had forgotten the important rule...I had made sure everyone else had their coats, checked it all more than once and left mine hanging in the closet. Luckily my chivalrous husband offered me his fleece jacket to layer over my wool sweater. 

Josh admiring his comfy skate
We bundled up, strapped on those foot stabbing rental skates and hit the ice.  That is where we would spend the next 3 hours. Mason challenged himself to skate 20 consecutive laps without assistance or falling. First, as all athletes must, they warmed up.

The crew getting warmed up


Getting stronger

And they're off!

Hi Mom!

My boy and me...he set a goal for himself and crushed it with a whopping 32 laps! All while dodging the pack of boys resembling the boys from the movie A Christmas Story who kept falling down all over the ice!

A month of sled hill climbing, ice house building, and ice skating and we would all be the most fit we've been in quite some time. Since we can't have that, we plan to pack in as much as we can in these next few days. 

As the temperature fell to 18 degrees on our drive home from the rink, I will be certain to over pack my coats for tomorrow's adventures.

Stay cozy and warm, Cheers! 

Christmas in Idaho Part 2

Some snippets in photos...

Mother-Daughter times have been oh so fun!

Gator rides are always a highlight

Quality Grandparent time

Father-Daughter time goodness

Pretzel dough making

Merry Christmas!

Ellie's new owl hat from Grandma and Grandpa

Grandma gave Ellie and Baby Maddie Matching dresses

Ice discoveries and explorations
Baby and Maddie are hangin' in their new baby carrier

Exploring at the creek

Pre-snow day fun!


Bundled up 
Dressed up for Christmas Dinner

Cozy cozy

Baby Maddie and Grandpa Time

Christmas Cheer!

The table was set with Grandma's tablecloth, dishes, and silverware

Good times were had by all! Cheers!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

"Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" Christmas in Idaho Part 1

I woke up yesterday and peeked out the guest bedroom window to find blankets of white snuggling the trees and land.  As I crept out into the dark living room I turned on the Christmas lights and peered out the front windows.  The light on the lower garage revealed the falling snow that I couldn't spy from the bedroom window.  
The long awaited SNOW Day was here!

"Mom, let's have a snowball fight!"
There is something so magical about watching the snow fall.  On Christmas Eve there was a teaser of snow. We headed to town for groceries and a few last minute gifts.  The locals tried to convince us that our "snow" we were enjoying was "sleet", but Ellie and I would not believe. It was snowing! 

At one point inside the CO-OP while ordering lunch, I looked out the front of the store and paused to take in the beauty of our snow outside, creating a backdrop for the intricate paper snowflakes strung above the cash registers. 

No slope too small to try out the sled!
By the time we returned home, most of the snow had melted, but we walked to the creek and explored the bits we found, dodging evidence of deer and cow pies in "The Little Woods". The creek was flowing and many sticks and branches created a fun game of stick races. We found ice in the puddles at the lower hill and moved onto family fun inside that evening. On the way home from church in the dark the snow began to fall again, and as Josh turned on the bright lights we felt like we were blasting off in the Millennium Falcon on down the highway back home. 

Christmas Day is a post all its own so I will speed ahead. After Christmas we went to see Into the Woods and had fun in town at dinner. We visited family in town and then home to a raucous game of UNO and Ellie danced for us. 

I love Mason's new Viking hat. 
The next morning the weather reports would come true and the grounds were covered in white. We bundled up after breakfast and headed out to find Uncle Don starting up the 4-wheeler to plow the driveway. The kids plopped down to make snow angels, threw snowballs and grabbed the sleds. 

Hi Grandma!
We started out by the creek. There is something about playing in nature that allows the imagination to automatically run wild.  The kids were instantly in another world pretending away, painting a story for us, the snow as their blank canvas. We were in search of shelter and it was cold and wintery and we had to press on. 

Our tiny Snowman by the creek
As Don plowed we had to move on to new locations in search of our shelter and we trudged up the hill with our sleds filled with snow. 

Hi Uncle Don!
Life was hard in this story, but luckily there were smiles among the "hard times" of finding shelter. 

Mom and Me
Daddy joined us with an arm full of supplies.  Grandpa's red bowl and spoon peeking out sparked curiosity and our game welcomed him in as he found food in our "food cave".

Daddy's snow snack! Cinnamon ice cream = delicious!

Snow wonder!
We took a walk with Uncle Don to gather wood for the fire and the magical day was taken to a whole new level.  

A day in the snow and a fire to roast marshmallows
Daddy and Ellie put the snow brick maker to good use and continued building their shelter. 

Ellie and Daddy's shelter
While Mason built his alongside the snowy garden beds. Snow continued to fall steadily providing more snow as we cleared it to build. 

Mason's Shelter
Snow Selfie
I made sure to stand back and take a breath and fall in love with my family all over again.

I love this man!

Merry Christmas Babe!
The sleds needed a break from hauling snow bricks to speed down the hill. We carved out tracks and shared many laughs. 

The perfect sledding hill
I imagine we'll remember these moments for years to come. There is something about how we play together outside as kids that fuels our soul. Standing at the top of the hill watching these two brought back many memories of times I shared with Chris. Seeing Grandpa smile through the window at them was great fun, too. 

Siblings making memories

Dad and Me
 Back to the shelter, there was a door to build to go with this window.

The first window, Hi Ellie!

 Lunch was made by the fire. S'mores sandwiches were on the menu.

A quick break by the fire
 The door began to take shape.

More progress
Another quick break to walk with Grandma to the mailbox.  We stopped on the way to check on our tiny snowman.  Ellie named him.

The Snowman was later named Uncle Chris!

Winter Library
The church parking lot was untouched.  So calm, so beautiful.  The kids were hesitant to touch it, but ended up carving their initials: M E

"Ellie, don't make too many tracks this part is the smoothest of snow."
 After all that it was time to head to bed.  The shelter was ready for us.

"Come into our shelter Mommy, it's time to sleep."
Time to wake up
 I wonder what today shall bring!

All in a days work!