First Day of School

Tonight I told Ale about a first day tradition from my youth: at night, Aunt Jen-Jen and I would lay in bed and dream about the first day of school.  It was her secret to falling asleep, and rather effective!    “Just think about your first day,” she would say.  Tonight I added, “Think of all the fun you are going to have tomorrow–all the friends you get to play with!”  

I remember thinking about Sister Bear’s kindergarten as a kid–wishing I had barrels of clay to play with or a see-saw right there in the classroom!  I wonder what she thought of as she fought sleep last night.  Maybe getting to paint?  Reading her name like Froggy?  Having snack like Emily Elizabeth? 

Ale’s favorite book! This was taken for our summer reading storytime’s final day!

 

We checked out a pile of first day books last week, and we have read them together.  We’ve talked about “nap time,” and how it is okay to just rest quietly.  We tried on her socks and shoes, and practiced using the potty in her skirt.  And I have been the nervous one, knowing that this year will be one she remembers for the rest of her life!  

In just a few hours, my little girl is going to her first day of Kinder 1. In Mexico there are three years of Kindergarten, the first being when students are three years old.  She is excited, and ready for some out of the house stimulation.  And lucky for the both of us, she will be in my school!  I can’t wait to see her playing outside, talking Spanish to her friends, and wearing her tiny uniform.

When I had a class of students, I would always pray for them this first night before school.  I would pray that God would give me the kids that needed me.  I know that the biggest testimony is often that of a little life though, and I think of that these days: how can I help her little light to shine for others?

I read these verses this week in Deuteronomy 6:

“…and thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up

And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house, and upon thy gates.”

I want to do a better job of that first part (loving God more) AND the second part (talking to my girls about my love and desire to serve God.) If her life can be used, even at age three, then what she is seeing and hearing at home must be the right things!  

The backpack show

   

Quick pose before leaving

 

 

Family photo for Ale’s first day!

  

Ale and her teachers

 

First Day of School

Tonight I told Ale about a first day tradition from my youth: at night, Aunt Jen-Jen and I would lay in bed and dream about the first day of school.  It was her secret to falling asleep, and rather effective!    “Just think about your first day,” she would say.  Tonight I added, “Think of all the fun you are going to have tomorrow–all the friends you get to play with!”  

I remember thinking about Sister Bear’s kindergarten as a kid–wishing I had barrels of clay to play with or a see-saw right there in the classroom!  I wonder what she thought of as she fought sleep last night.  Maybe getting to paint?  Reading her name like Froggy?  Having snack like Emily Elizabeth? 

Ale’s favorite book! This was taken for our summer reading storytime’s final day!

 

We checked out a pile of first day books last week, and we have read them together.  We’ve talked about “nap time,” and how it is okay to just rest quietly.  We tried on her socks and shoes, and practiced using the potty in her skirt.  And I have been the nervous one, knowing that this year will be one she remembers for the rest of her life!  

In just a few hours, my little girl is going to her first day of Kinder 1. In Mexico there are three years of Kindergarten, the first being when students are three years old.  She is excited, and ready for some out of the house stimulation.  And lucky for the both of us, she will be in my school!  I can’t wait to see her playing outside, talking Spanish to her friends, and wearing her tiny uniform.

When I had a class of students, I would always pray for them this first night before school.  I would pray that God would give me the kids that needed me.  I know that the biggest testimony is often that of a little life though, and I think of that these days: how can I help her little light to shine for others?

I read these verses this week in Deuteronomy 6:

“…and thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up

And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house, and upon thy gates.”

I want to do a better job of that first part (loving God more) AND the second part (talking to my girls about my love and desire to serve God.) If her life can be used, even at age three, then what she is seeing and hearing at home must be the right things!  

The backpack show

   

Quick pose before leaving

 

 

Family photo for Ale’s first day!

  

Ale and her teachers

 

A Letter to My (Other) Mom

Dear Mama Burkett,

I thought of you today as I twisted up my hair.  You taught me this style–half bun tucked into a French twist.  I remember still watching you in the basement comb your long black hair, then explain how to flip that bun over. 

I thought of you on Sunday.  I opened my eyes during prayer when I heard Allie giggle.  Her friend was sitting in front of her, and they were making faces at one another.  I had a flashback to a meeting where you told me to close my eyes by sign language.  

And even as I write this, I think of those conventions as a child.  You and mom were the meanest moms on the grounds.  Thank you for that.  We never got to sit and read.  We never got to skip out on Spoons like some of our friends did.  And, once we were old enough, sleeping there meant we were expected to wake up and serve.

Thank you for your service.  As an adult I learned that the vegetable house at convention is no joke.

They call a pillar such a name because it is strong.  It’s origin means of the nature of stone.  The pillar is the support for a building, and often, when the rest of the building has crumbled away, the pillars remain.  We use it to describe people like you–unmoving, supportive, and ever steadfast.

I’m grateful for the hard choices you’ve made.  And the hard conversations I overheard.  I am grateful for the testimonies and prayers through the years– I can’t quote them, or even recall what one was at the moment.  But they were there.  Steadfast.  Steady.  Strong.  I am grateful for the friendship that you helped cultivate.  And the spiritual love that you helps to fertilize seeds long ago planted.

Love,
Your (other) daughter

Hope of Rain

Until I lived in the desert, I never understood that hope of rain.  Just a little water falling from the sky freshens the air, the ground, and my attitude.

I have the same hope tomorrow–knowing that two of God’s servants will be in our meeting.  And for weeks from now–as we prepare for Torreon convention and the visitors that come with it!  Even September holds hope in the palm of her hand with the arrival of our larger convention in the next state over.

A spiritual shower may not make my tomatoes grow, but it sure does help love to grow:  Love for my meeting, my family, my place, and love for a world struggling to find a foothold in the midst of chaos.

Rain down on me.

A Letter to My Girls 

  
Dear Darling Daughters,

Words can’t begin to express the joy that fills my heart when I watch you play.  There’s a closeness you have that I pray you will keep forever!  Once I worried about adding another baby to our family, and I find myself in that place of contentment and happiness again.  How could life ever become better, sweeter, than it is now?

This morning I snuck downstairs to start making breakfast while you snoozed happily away.  I don’t worry as much about leaving now that you have each other to keep company.  I cooked, cleaned the kitchen, mopped, and then you, my sweet big girl, appeared.  “I was sleeping,” you said, laughing, “and then Josie woke me up!”  Together we went to get our smiling happy baby ready for our day.

Tonight we sat together looking at photos as I prepared Josie’s paperwork for her American documents.  We exclaimed together over photos of our first baby learning to “read.”  We watched videos of you crawling, eating spaghetti, laughing… And, in a matter of minutes, we watched you grow all over again!  Time passed before our eyes, and while you were busy, your daddy and I talked.  We talked about life before you–how young and skinny we were. We talked about the stories behind the photos. We talked about today:  “Mama, I love you,” you said.  “I love you too, honey,” I replied.  “That’s music to my ears!” you fired back with a sweet smile.  We talked about you playing with your friends and trying out your Spanish for a while.  We talked about you being “too busy to play caballito with Josie.”  

Ahhh… My heart is so full! My cup runneth over!   

Sweet babies, I look forward to what tomorrow might bring: your sweet giggles, the cuddles and kisses, and the memories being made.  I know that tomorrow there will also be a point where my frustration will rise as my patience slowly fades.  I hope that isn’t the moment that you or I remember.  Even as I write this, I remember a moment last week. While grumpy, I managed to keep an even voice as I corrected you.  “Okay, mama,” you said, “I can do that.  Thank you for talking nice to me.” 

You, my girls, are growing before my eyes, and I want to remember every touch of your hand–holding onto mine as you nurse, grabbing my face as you kiss me goodbye…again…and again…  I want to remember the twinkle in your eye when you ask for pancakes.  I want to remember the grunt you let out as you demand attention, and the fullness of your smile when you receive it–pushing up onto your hands, ready to crawl. I want to remember the way you talk to yourself as you play.  And those moments of you together, when you ask me for the millionth time what your sister said with each coo she emits. 

You, my dear, sweet girls, are the sun in our day.  Shine on us.  Let us revolve around you a bit and collect your warmth.  You help our family grow.  You give us light and life.  Shine on, sweet girls.

Until tomorrow, sleep tight in my arms.
Love,
Mama
   

The Golden Hour

Any parent can tell you the golden hour of the day is when the kids fall asleep.  Freedom!  It’s that time where you can read, watch a show, or maybe even just clean up the uneaten food they left all over the table in various bowls… 

This week our oldest had some kind of stomach virus.  (I swear it is because she won’t stop drinking the pool/bath water.) In addition to tummy troubles, she was restless, unable to sleep well, whiny, and overall, not very fun to be around. 

The third night, I literally gave my husband a high five as we walked home from a friend’s house.  The girls BOTH fell asleep in their strollers on the way home.  I began mentally planning what to do to fill up my golden hour.

Then the little monsters woke up.

I tried all my normal tricks: breastmilk, singing, fake sleeping, the silent treatment.  We took them out for another walk at 11:30pm, hoping they would fall back asleep.  Immediately I should have known we were in for a long one when Ale, looking around at all the dark houses, exclaimed loudly, “Heeeeey! What’s going on here?!  Why are all these people asleep?!”

Here are my monsters today. They took a break from plotting my nervous breakdown to be sweet with each other.

Pure Joy

There may be no greater delight than…

  • Watching my girls giggle together
  • Seeing them cuddled next to one another with arms slung above their heads fast asleep
  • Hearing the old one talk to the new one 
  • Hearing the new one coo at the first one
  • Dreaming of the fun they’ll some day have–telling secrets, sharing sorrow, growing in love

  Ahhh…how sweet it is!
  

A Letter to My Husband on Father’s Day

Dear Husband,

Thank you.  You probably don’t hear it enough from me.  Today I am feeling so grateful for having you to “do life” with me.  You have a way of making problems disappear.  You put stressful situations into perspective; you are the calm to my storm.  

Today has been a busy Father’s Day for you–moving this morning wasn’t an ideal way to spend our Sunday.  Another house.  A lot more stuff.  A wife and two kids who are all three pretty useless moving things… And then tonight, as you left to play in the park with Ale, I felt my heart swell with happiness.  Your girls love you so much, and I know that there is little you wouldn’t do for them.  

 
I never expected to meet you when I came to Mexico.  I came to bask in my singleness–to regain my power.  I had no idea that you were waiting for me.  You exceed my expectations daily, and I say a silent prayer of thankfulness to have you around me.  You make me a better person with your constant support and guidance.

  

I realize that it is a sacrifice to stay home with the baby again, and I am so grateful!  She is building a relationship with you, and every guy she dates will be held up next to you for comparison.  Furthermore, I leave my babies knowing they gave the best care that anyone could give.   Josie will grow up like Ale: loving her “pops” more than anyone, begging to “hang out” with him instead of sleeping, and one day soon, she’ll greet you with a “Happy Fadder’s Day!”

  
So today, Fadder’s Day, I want to say thank you, my love.  Thank you for your positivity, your strength, and your wisdom. Happy Father’s Day to you.

Love always,

Your esposa

The Art of Conversation: Teaching

I love conversations that we have with our three year old.  She picks up on so much these days, and then will ask about it days later.  The following is a conversation we had today:

Victor: Mami is going to stay home.

Ale:  No! Mami is going to work all day at the school.  She is a teacher.

Victor:  What about you?

Ale:  I am a teacher too.

Me:  What do you teach?

Ale:  I teach babies how to smile…

ahhh…cue the melting heart.  I hope that is the only type of education you decide to enter, my love.

 

The Places You Shouldn’t Write

I am a literacy coach.  It is literally my job to promote reading and writing.  I love seeing the way Ale is growing as a young reader and writer, and I try to encourage her to “write.”  I rejoice in watching her fine motor skills develop as she, now purposefully, grips her pencils.  I bought crayons long before she had the strength to make them show up on paper.  She has had notebooks for years that we carry along for busy hands.  She has an art box from my dreams overflowing with colors, stickers, and scraps of paper for her to glue.

Unfortunately, in our family, it has become a common question: “Ale, where can you write with that?”  She always replies, “Only on paper!”  That’s because we’re discovering all the places that we shouldn’t write, and our list grew again today:

1). Walls.  Beware of the quiet child with markers.  Watch out for sneaky glances as three year old hands hide markers in the folds of her skirt while backing out the room.  And finally, if someone tells you to stay as she runs the opposite way, you should follow.

2). Tables.  Just because your paper is on the table doesn’t mean you should write on the table…

3). Couches. The couch has its own rule book.  Food and drinks aren’t allowed there.  Play Doh is also on the list.  Shoes aren’t welcome anymore either.  

4). Books.  This is hard to explain.  It IS paper.  There are pictures.  Some books are for writing.  Others aren’t.  Most aren’t.  So, back. Away. From. The. Book. With. Your. Markers! 

5). Babies.  Don’t do it.  Of all the places you’ve written, this may be the one I least expected.  You shouldn’t write on babies…

This is what I came home to this afternoon, with an excited three year old telling me she “painted” the baby.