Monday, September 29, 2014

Starting School: Big Changes

End of Summer=Big Decisions
So all summer long, a decision was brewing.  I have loved most of my job for the past 3 years.  I've been teaching "part-time" (you'll understand the quotation marks in a sec) Musical Theater and Vocal Music at a public middle school in Orange County.  A good school in a good district.  I had 35 kids in the audition-based musical theater class (I usually cut around 20 during audition season) and around 120 kids in the choral program.  I was working early in the morning until noon but would, often, return to the school for rehearsals, meetings and concerts/productions, often dragging the girls with me.  There are things I loved about it. The kids, the productions, the lights, putting together the story, watching kids blossom before my very eyes. . . but what I couldn't stand was what happened at home.  How, before every major production or concert or show, I wasn't the only person who was completely stressed out and tired.  While the girls loved the middle school kids and Claire even got her first musical production under her belt with my last Spring show, "Honk!," the everyday and the craziness was just wearing on all of us.  On top of that, we ran into a major issue with babysitting when my mom decided to go back to work, nearly, full time this school year.  After a lot of tears, math and prayer, we agreed to have me take a leave of absence this school year.  
It's taken a lot for me to let go of this program, particularly the musical theater program that I've been building for the past 11 years.  But it was one of those moments where we really realized we had to step out and do something different. The other part of this is that we really have convictions about our kids and their education.  I have been homeschooling Claire for preschool while I've been working but we are really getting closer and closer to the time when the girls (and any other kiddo who becomes a member of our family) education needs to be front and center for me.  So here we go. 
So, for the first time in 12 years, my first day of school looked something like this: 

Sometimes we play outside at the park across the street. . .
and have evening playdates with neighborhood kids. . . 
or take field trips to PetCo to look at the animals.
Sometimes we have cooking lessons before dinnertime. . .

or lounge around in our elephant costume. . .

or complete bookwork in a Cabbage Patch wig.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the kids at my old job, the theater program I built and the notoriety I received.  I loved the satisfaction of watching a group of kids go from barely knowing what they were doing, lacking in confidence to getting up there onstage and completely owning their moment.  I will miss the lights, the costumes, the creativity.  But I'm ready to pour into my family this year.  I'm ready to start new things, educate my girls, learn more about the Classical model of education while tutoring at Veritas one day a week and so excited to share more of God's natural gifts of his earth through doTERRA essential oils and I'm excited to bring a new little one into our home through adoption, whoever he or she may be.  Our family is standing at another watershed. . . so with the uncertainty and excitement of these changes, I'm reminded of this:
Rolling River God 

Little Stones are smooth 
Only once the water passes through 
So I am a stone 
rough and grainy still 
Trying to reconcile this river's chill

But when I close my eyes 
and feel you rushing by 
I know that time brings change 
and change takes time 
And when the sunset comes 
my prayer would be just this one 
that you might pick me up 
and notice that I am 
just a little smoother in your hand

Sometimes raging wild 

sometimes swollen high 
never have I known this river dry 
The deepest part of you 
is where I want to stay 
and feel the sharpest edges wash away

But when I close my eyes 

and feel you rushing by 
I know that time brings change 
and change takes time 
And when the sunset comes 
my prayer would be just this one 
that you might pick me up 
and notice that I am 
just a little smoother in your hand

Friday, September 26, 2014

Date nights: How we are making it work

Christian and I were told, over and over, before we got married, that we needed to make sure we took the time to date, especially after we have kids.  The last 6 years have been incredibly busy. During that time, we've bought a house, had two kids, begun the adoption process for our third, I've finished a MA degree in English from UC Irvine, Christian finished a MS degree in Instructional Design and Technology from Cal State, Fullerton, I've taken over a musical theater and choir program for three years and then took a leave of absence, Christian has started a new job, we've started a business. . . I dunno.  It's just been a little crazy around here.  But we both had that, "leave time for dating" idea in the back of our heads.  I have a few friends who get to do "date night" once a week.  We'd love that.  We really would.  But it doesn't happen. We will send one of us out for Frogurt or smoothies or have date nights in, and that's great but living 45 min. from family (on both sides, in opposite directions) and not sure we can pay a babysitter once a week, we are pretty lucky if it happens once a month.  But it usually does since we have a built-in date night through our season tickets to the Sergerstrom Center in Costa Mesa.  Each year, we buy the Broadway Series. . . and definitely sit in the nosebleeds. But we go.  Usually. And when we don't get to go, we either sell or give away the tickets or lose them entirely.  This forces us to go.  To not allow months to go by where we don't do anything, or go out, or let life completely ramrod our relationship. 
Our last show was "Once."  A.  Amazing.  I left me, really, wanting more.  It was artistic, yet, not completely "out there" and it certainly didn't feel like it was trying too hard. But my favorite part about it was going out, with my husband and a few friends, talking about the show and just being able to pretend we weren't buried in some of the craziness.  We didn't talk about training seminars or adoption homestudies or tantrums or bathrooms that needed cleaning.  We were just a couple of music and theater nerds who like to go out to eat and talk and play.  

And it was, seriously, good.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

How to finish out your summer right. . . a wrap up.

Dance Class
Claire kept up with her dance classes this summer.  I'm considering putting Ashlyn in since I think she'd love it but, for a couple reasons, I'm thinking I'll try something different for Ashlyn this year and wait until she is 3 to get her going on the dance classes.  It really is super cute to see Claire love the classes so much.  
Captured this sometime this summer.  Love how they are watching the older girls and how impressed I've been with the girls my girls will look up to. 

Skirball Cultural Center: Noah's Ark
Now, this was cool.  We really could have spent so much more time at the Skirball.  I just had no idea.  They really made the Noah's Ark story come to life for my girls.  Claire still talks about this day.  Wants to go back so, so bad.

 Also at the Skirball, they had a replica of an Israeli archaeological dig site.  We got our own sand pit and canopy and were given specific things to look for in our site.  SUPER neat.  The guide was so fun and helpful.

Peppertree Park: Broadway in the Park 
Every year we go with some friends to Peppertree Park in order to watch that year's Broadway performance in the park.  This year it was Peter Pan.  The girls LOVED it and, thanks to the KidCo PeaPod and Ashlyn's ability to fall asleep when she's tired just about anywhere, we were able to stay the entire show (normally, we've left at intermission).  

Ashlyn snoozing during the show. 
 Chino Youth Museum
One thing that's nice about summertime, I'm able to check out things in our area that I don't, normally, get to explore with the girls.  I, actually, am just discovering what is out here 5 years after I moved here.  One morning this summer we went to the Chino Youth Museum and had a BLAST. The girls had so much fun and didn't want to leave.  Definitely a place we will be returning to soon!

Claire's "I'm the bad guy" face
 All Church VBS and Chili Cook Off (Summer Send-Off) 
The last week of summer, a friend and I pulled of a chili cook-off plus VBS afternoon at the church.  The event was a hit (although the VBS portion was small, which I'm ok with considering our philosophy of training children and families). . . but I digress.  The kids had a great time learning about Moses, wearing fake mustaches (who doesn't love THAT?!) and playing with the mini parachute I snagged on Zulily.

 We gave the entire event a Western Theme and had a couple judges who picked the winner for the event (one of which turned out to be my husband. . . you know, the guy with the aversion to spicy food?  Go figure.)    

Aaaand here's our shocked winner of our cook-off.  Serina was fairly certain she was just adding a chili to the pile, one that wasn't going to make much of a splash. And it totally won.  Awesome.  I love that.

Claire got hyped up on sno-cones. . . a treat we rarely allow at our house since we are a artificial flavor/coloring family.  Never. Again.  She couldn't sit still for DAYS after the event.  She and Logan sure had fun, though, in the moment.

Good bye, summer!  (Although, in California, I'm sure we have SEVERAL more weeks left. . . .)